Push your boundaries – you won’t be sorry

Push your boundaries – you won’t be sorry

Something we all tend to talk about easily but not always “do it”. It’s easier to tell someone else that they should push their boundaries BUT when it comes to yourself, we struggle…. Well sometimes I do.

The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment.-~Pema Chodron

 These past few months, I’ve been focusing on educating myself more to be able to do my own thing. When I left my full-time job to be with my son, I had this mind set of where I wanted to be and what to do other than must being a stay-at-home mom.  Life happened and things didn’t turn out exactly as I wanted but I’m okay with it, I am happy. I still haven’t educated myself as much as I expected…not at all.

At first this wasn’t so easy, I was scared – I mean, I was in a comfort zone. I had a stable job, stable income and left it for the exact opposite.I left all of this to do what I always dreamed of for a complete unknown territory.  This would be the second time in my life I had this opportunity.

The first time I was too afraid to do something on my own, to step out of my comfort zone, so I said no. It was a year later where the opportunity approached me again, and I realised that I had to step out of my comfort zone. I had to give it a try, or I will regret it for the rest of my life.

After a few weeks passed I realised that, my new “environment” had so much more to offer. AND that yes, this is unknown and completely out of my own comfort zone,  that I might not do everything I planned but that whatever I get done will be good enough.  It was only two weeks until I had enough clients/projects lined up to be more than okay. My son was happy & healthy to be with me at home.

I suspect I didn’t do as well as I wanted to with studying and educating myself because my head wasn’t in the right place.  However, my mentality has since changed, and I now find my success from setting my own boundaries – or to set fewer boundaries.

I found that defining to large goals and targets detracts from what you really set out to do.  The goals I set for myself in this unknown world – to be a full-time mom, to work all day, be a homemaker AND to study – weren’t achievable.

So, today – don’t set “permanent” goals. I have a rough idea in mind, the results to be outstanding. “There are no limits to your potential achievements.”

In my opinion, push the boundaries, by not making any OR if you have them – they need to be flexible in changing circumstance. Just put in all the energy and effort you can without exhausting your other responsibilities. You will create a sense of inner self-satisfaction AND never be too hard on yourself.

You will regret not trying something, but you will never regret doing something out of your comfort zone that can be good for you!

 

An in-depth look at what Graphic Design really is

An in-depth look at what Graphic Design really is

Graphic design is much more than taking a picture and adding text to it.  It’s the art of communicating visually, visual problem solving.

So why is it so important?  Well, imagine walking in a shopping centre and every shop has their name above their door in the same font, no colour, no style, no shape… Or what about magazines?  If you page through a magazine and you just see one big block of words without any style, colour, images or different layouts.  Would it keep you interested to read through the magazine?

This is where graphic design comes in – the visual message that a brand, magazine, billboard or poster sends needs to keep the reader’s attention to get your message out to them.

 

History

Graphic design has been with us since as long ago as 15 000 BC. Yes, it started in the age of the cavemen, who made symbols and pictographs on cave walls.  It was used by monks in the Dark Ages.   Even the Egyptians used it when creating papyrus.

 

Interesting elements in graphic design

When designing, you work with different elements to compliment your design, such as texture, line, shape, space.

 

What about typography?    Graphic_Design

Typography forms an important part of the graphic design process.   Your choice of typography can set the mood and emotion in your design.  There are different type styles, such as friendly, aggressive, calm, successful.  By using the exact same words but in a different font, you can convey two different messages.

In this image I have used exactly the same words, “You are the one I want…”  Can you see the difference in the message given by the words, when you make use of different fonts?

 

Shapes and patterns

When adding a shape to a design, you need to think about the message that you want your brand to convey.  Is your brand strong, successful, feminine, trendy, do you want to show stability?  If you decide to use a circle in your logo, this could suggest any of the following, safety, protection, free movement, completeness, unity, femininity and many more.  It is really important to think about the meaning of the shape before using a triangle, square, geometric form etc. in your design.  It is the same when using patterns; patterns can convey a feeling of stability, order or even motion.

 

Colour

Just like type fonts, colour also plays a big role in sending out the correct message when designing something.  Look at the difference in the mood between the white text on the red background and the red text on the black background.  Romantic vs Scary – while using the same words.

Every colour you use can have a different meaning, but the lack of colour could have a meaning as well.  Purple can give a meaning of rich or royal, where blue can portray reliability or calmness.  Red has a lot of meanings – love, danger, passion, violence or even adventure.  Instead of just adding a few colours together you can look deeper into the meaning of each color.  Do not use too many colours.   Most well-known brands only use two colours in their logo.  So how do you choose which colours to use together?  Here you can think about complimentary, contrasting, reflective and analogous colours.

 

Lines

Lines can suggest different meanings. A thin line can suggest frailty and easy to break, where a thick line can suggest strength and difficulty to break.  A vertical line can suggest dignity, upwards growth, lack of movement.  Where a horizontal line can suggest security and stability.  You can also choose between lines such as diagonal, curved, zigzag, dashed, artificial and natural.

I constantly find myself when standing in a shop or even when I am watching television, not looking at what the name is on a logo or advertisement, but actually looking at the shapes, colours, lines, fonts and white space used by the designer.  To me, graphic design is a really interesting field to explore.  Even after I finished my degree, I constantly find myself doing research, tutorials and watching “How To” videos.  This is an industry that is constantly evolving, and it is best to upskill, especially with the constant updates to the tools used.

 

Hiring a full-time graphic designer for your company?

Why not hire a virtual assistant to take care of the graphic design tasks you must get done in your company? Your virtual assistant can take tasks such as the following off your plate:

  • company branding
  • website designer
  • infographics
  • social media designer
  • eBook designs
  • even image editing

Why not give it a try?  Our world is changing and as we go into the future, virtual work will become the “go-to” option.  We can already see this happening.  To find more information about virtual assistants, take a look at VA Connect.

 

Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

Email Marketing Trends You Need to Know About

Email Marketing Trends You Need to Know About

Email marketing is constantly evolving and 2020 has been an exciting year in the email marketing arena with it continuing to be one of the most trusted communication channels available to marketers. It has received a bad rap in the past, but it continues to defy its critics, providing some of the best ROIs in the digital landscape. Here’s a summary of the main email marketing trends that we are seeing in 2020 and that are likely to stick around for the remainder of the year and beyond.

 

It’s all about the mobile

Mobile browsing has now surpassed desktop browsing in terms of percentage traffic and mobile surpasses other devices for email opens.  As a result, emails are being optimized more and more for mobile access, ensuring that copy, images and layout correctly collapse down into a mobile-friendly format.

The majority of purchases and therefore generated revenue is still coming from desktops but crucially, the percentage of revenue from mobiles increased 23% in 2019 and that is set to continue in 2020.

 

Minimalist email copy and design

Concise copy and a clean design have become paramount for email marketing and with the shift towards mobile access, simplification has become even more important. Long superfluous copy leads to readers switching off and not making it through an email. What works on paper doesn’t necessarily carry well to an email, and companies should have dedicated copywriters that understand the writing requirements for email copy as opposed to direct mail copy.

Attention spans of readers are reducing, and media is being consumed in large quantities. An email should therefore be simple and contain content that is easy to scan and can be quickly digested and understood. Lots of white space, simple images and blocks of colour to draw the eye are being used in emails to keep them easy to read.

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in email marketing

AI is increasingly being used in email copy and content selection, dramatically improving personalisation and being able to provide the right message for each person. AI is also being used for segmenting recipients. Efficient and intelligent software is replacing the usual data collection at signup process. Effectively, AI is a tool to be used alongside other marketing tools, but how it is used is arguably more important than whether or not you choose to adopt it.

 

Segmentation tactics

Personalisation will continue to grow in importance and one area that is picking up interest is the optimisation of send time. This is where emails are optimised to send out to individuals based on their historical open patterns. There will be more segments and more dynamic segmentation with email marketers striving to provide the most relevant communication at the optimum frequency and time.

 

Trust in email marketing is going nowhere

Email continues to be a consistent platform that allows one-to-one communication to an inbox. The majority of recipients are receiving emails that they have opted in to receive so they are more likely to trust the content. With social media platforms as a comparison, users can follow/unfollow, like/unlike with one click as well as constantly switch between platforms. Email is the single best digital tool to communicate with customers that actually want to hear from you.

 

Final thoughts

Email marketing is here to stay.  As technological innovation continues to reshape the email marketing landscape, there is plenty you can do at every level of your email marketing strategy to improve results. Let’s see what the rest of the year and 2021 holds for this trusted, yet rapidly evolving marketing channel!

 

Travel: What will be the new normal?

Travel: What will be the new normal?

With the pandemic that has turned 2020 upside down, will everything return to normal in a few months or a years’ time? Or will we have to adapt to a different kind of normal? There is no doubt that the tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit with hotels and airlines having to shut down temporarily, and in some cases, staff being retrenched or companies closing. As restrictions start to ease, will travel industry require a complete makeover to survive and once again thrive?

 

Business Travel

Business travel hasn’t been possible over the last few months with many airlines halting operations, as well as hotels closing their doors. Business has therefore had to be done either via email or Zoom/Skype calls. Have companies realised that this is an easier way of doing business? Is human interaction always necessary? Companies will certainly cut back on the business travel if it isn’t necessary, thus the market for this form of travel may decline.

Remote work is, at very least, likely to form a key part of our new normal. While start-ups and youthful companies have been taking advantages of its cost saving and efficiency for a few years, mainstream business has now, through necessity, also seen that it can work and offers distinct advantages.

 

Group Travel

Travel in large groups is likely to be severely affected due to the risk of transmitting the virus to other travellers. This is likely to have a sustained effect, as the world collectively tries to stem cross border carrying of Covid.

With smaller groups comes more administration per person. Meaning a wider team of support staff that are wearing many hats on a day-to-day basis will be required for smooth running of group operations that typically rely on larger, one size fits all packages and operations in order to work efficiently and offer value for money.

 

Hotels, Airlines and Tour Operators

Hotels, airlines and tour operators have almost all had to shut their doors over the last few months. Many employees have lost their jobs with companies not having any form of income. Not knowing when the light will appear at the end of the tunnel, many companies are trying to find new ways to attract clients and even outsource their work force. Hotel and airline call centre staff could potentially work from home given that they don’t have to be face to face with the consumer. Small tour operators are looking at employing virtual assistants to do their back office/admin, or even take calls from new/potential clients.

Employing or growing a full-time workforce will be a huge risk for many a business right now, meaning outsourced, dynamic and contract-based teams will become the standard.

 

Virtual Travel Experiences

So, what will the new normal be?

Will there be a virtual assistant sitting in a small village in South Africa, taking calls on behalf of her client in Florida for bookings on a boat charter? That is already happening.

Will luxury lodges be offering virtual safaris to armchair explorers from the comfort of their own homes? Yep, this too is already happening.

Or will we still crave the immersive, cultural and human interactions that force us to get out there and explore again? This too will definitely happen – it is human nature. But when it does, businesses will need to rethink how they run and grow their businesses.

Agility, a scalable workforce, and being able to roll with the punches will be key. At VA Connect we are able to help you do just that by offering a wide array of skills, expertise and experience through our dynamic team of virtual assistants.

Will Podcast Marketing ever rule the web?

Will Podcast Marketing ever rule the web?

Podcasts are definitely the marketing tool of the moment as well as the future. Marketing gurus have noted the changing needs of marketing from the written word to audio and because of this are now using podcasting as their main marketing medium in this very competitive market.

Podcasting has grown exponentially over the last few years and is fast becoming the more popular medium for advertising. Because consumers no longer have the time to browse through newspapers, pamphlets, magazines etc. many businesses are using the very powerful marketing tool of podcasts to boost their sales as well as their brand.

The augmented usage of mobile phones is considered to be one of the main factors for the explosive growth of podcasting and podcasts have therefore become the new talk radio of the mobile devices.

 

The benefits

Eight major promoting benefits to podcasting:

  • Drive traffic.
  • Better search results
  • Allows users to listen and carry on with their life
  • Increase followers
  • Diversifying your content
  • Relationship building
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Builds trust in your brand

The best way to get your marketing message across to listeners is to use the content of the podcast to relate to the product or brand which you are trying to sell.  Using 3rd party ads can annoy listeners and subsequently chase them away.

Audio is a welcoming break from the information overload of written content.  Podcasts enable the speaker to get the message across to listeners in an interactive way that the written content might not be able to.

 

Smart integration

It is predicted that with podcasts becoming more popular that in the future there will be a lot more integration with our devices. An example is that your alarm clock could be set to wake you up with the most recent episode of your morning podcast.  Your smart devices would also be able to alert you as to when a new episode of your favorite or most listened to podcasts become available.

A small disadvantage to podcasting is that if you are listening to your podcasts using the same network it is likely that you are hearing the same ads over and over again.

Hopefully future podcasting ads will be able to be targeted to user interests and demographics which will reduce the repetition of ads.  Recent research has been shown consumers would be more likely purchase a product from a brand that appeals to their personal experience and needs.

 

The future

It is predicted that podcast networks of the future will be able to inform you of the podcasts they think you will like, almost the same way Netflix currently does with movies you have watched. For instance, if you generally listen to podcasts at 12:00 during your lunch hour, you could get notifications that there are new episodes ready for download at 11:30 which will help you to avoid searching for new episodes.

So, to answer the question, “Will Podcast Marketing Ever Rule the Web?” My prediction is yes, it is very possible that it will.  Watch this space.