The one life lesson I have learnt…. Travel!

The one life lesson I have learnt…. Travel!

I have been in a fortunate position to have been able to resign from my job and go and travel. Look, it isn’t the easiest thing to do, as it takes months and even years to plan. But it is something that I would highly recommend everyone does. Take the plunge and forget about having to sit in the traffic to get to a desk you will sit behind for 8 hours, only to get back in your car to sit in some more traffic.

 

Why take a sabbatical?

Why would anyone want to leave their stable job with regular income? Everyone asks, “Aren’t you scared to leave your stable job?”. Yes, it is scary to think of, but you will not have any regrets. So many people are planning and saving for their retirement, wanting to go travel only then. But realistically, would you be physically fit to do a 21km roundtrip hike to see the infamous Trolltunga in Norway, or volunteer to help build a new cattery in Sweden, at the age of 65?

A misconception for quitting your job to go travelling is that it’s expensive. It can work out cheaper than your normal day to day life with an office job. You don’t have any rent to pay or other major bills to pay. If you are smart, you can find places where you can volunteer and in return, you get accommodation and food during your stay. Volunteering can be very rewarding, and one can learn so many new skills as part of the experience.

 

Planning for a once in a lifetime experience

Taking time off to go and travel for a few months is not something you can just plan for a month in advance. It takes months or even years of working extra hard to earn money to save. One must cut all costs to save every penny. It’s even saying no to Friday night drinks with your friends because you need to save. Every penny counts, and it is worth it when you finally get on that plane for the adventure of a lifetime.

You don’t have to plan every single move; you can just go with the flow. Depending on your passport, you may have limited time in the country. You can have a rough idea of your trip, but it does have to be cast in stone. You may find that you love the south of France and want to stay an extra few weeks.

 

Nothing ‘adventured’;  nothing gained

Experiencing a new culture or ticking off the hot air balloon ride that was on your bucket list can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have, and you will carry that experience with you for life. You learn new things every day, things that you will never be able to learn by sitting at your desk doing your 8 – 5 office job. Like stumbling across a Spanish fiesta in a small coastal town and being the only English-speaking person in the crowd, but you will have one of the best nights of your life. You will also meet some really interesting people and make lifelong friends.

Be adventurous! And take the plunge – you will not regret it.

How to reduce stress in the workplace with one simple exercise

How to reduce stress in the workplace with one simple exercise

STRESS, wow this is a word that can be easily thrown around in almost every workplace, anywhere in the world. What if I told you that you could reduce this by almost 70% with just one little thing?

Sound too good to be true? What if I told you that you could do it, by simply practicing something your body and mind is so attuned to and it is a perfectly natural action?

In the words of Mark Twain:

“[Humanity] has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand”.

 

Laughter has several amazing effects on the body.  It strengthens your immune system, reduces muscle tension and stress. It is good for your ticker and some say it can help you recover faster from injury or illness.

We all know the workplace can be a stressful environment and it may not be easy to get that hearty, healthy chuckle in, so I have compiled a short list of how you can make your day a tad happier.

  1. Use the Word: Check out http://www.wordthink.com/; word of the day, then try to naturally work it into a conversation.
  2. Have some Hula Fun: Hold a hula hoop contest with your desk neighbour or on a zoom call with your colleagues.
  3. Pull Yourself towards yourself: write a letter to yourself about how your stress is ridiculous “dear future me, can you believe how I wasted a day being stressed?”
  4. Jam it up: get up and dance, do it in the elevator, at your desk, in front of a mirror, just wiggle those hips for a minute
  5. Jam it up Together: Even better than a solo elevator jiggle, have a 2pm 30 second dance party with your co workers
  6. Halloween scream: put out a bowl of candy at your desk and offer people a sweet in exchange for a story or a joke.
  7. Employ some dark humour : Get a de-motivational poster for your desk or office.
  8. Glam it up: give any colleague (even the men) a new hairstyle with an online makeover.
  9. Poetry slam: Buy refrigerator magnets for the office kitchen.
  10. Pirate Ahoy: give everyone on your team a Pirate name
  11. Pass Notes: pass a note in the office like you did as a kid, better yet, fold it into a paper plane and see if you can land it on their desk
  12. DON’T laugh: have a don’t laugh don’t smile contest with your co-workers, see who breaks first

 

But remember life can’t always be fun and games, so there are some rules to follow when it comes to humour in the workplace:

Know your audience

Don’t use humour to insult or offend anyone. Anything that includes religion, sexuality, ethnic background, politics, or someone’s personal beliefs, is a no-go-zone.

Don’t forget to laugh at yourself

Life is short, don’t take yourself too seriously.

Include company anecdotes

This can make even the most disparaging audience feel involved.

Use humour to diffuse tension

But not at the cost of a covered insult.

 

There is still work to be done, so don’t go overboard!

The number one quality I look for in anyone, be it my manager, friend or colleague, is a sense of humour.  Life is stressful! Let’s all try and turn our frowns upside down, even if it is just for 5 minutes of the day.

Driving Value – is it time to hire a Sales VA?

Driving Value – is it time to hire a Sales VA?

There is an old saying that 80% of your sales revenue come from 20% of your clients.  Also, another, not so great statistic, is that 80% of the work in your business is done by 20% of your staff.

These statistics bring to light two of the main complaints of any business looking to add to their team—the cost and investment it takes to bring on a new permanent employee.  When you factor in the hidden costs like training and employee benefits, it’s a hard pill to swallow, KNOWING that, give or take, 80% of your staff is not there giving their all, all the time.  This rings true especially when you are busting your behind getting your life-long-dream, still in that crazy roller-coaster ride called the start-up phase, off the ground.  Anyone who has ever started a business knows that you as the entrepreneur, is BUSY.  You are most probably dividing your time between operations, marketing, financial management & HR – heck you may just as well be the tea lady!

The dilemma which presents itself is that you need sales to grow the business.  Entrepreneurs are not necessarily great at selling.  Or perhaps you are a hot shot salesperson, but don’t have the time or desire to nurture and grow the relationships with your newly landed clients.  The great news is that a Virtual Assistant hire is a straightforward, simple way to add to your sales team, without having to worry about hidden costs.  Virtual Assistants are paid for the hours they work, whether it is 3 hours or 8 hours per day.  They will happily take over all the tasks that you don’t want to manage yourself.

A Sales VA can, to name a few, run with customer relationship management, customer support, prospecting, managing your sales funnel, managing leads through social media, and much more. The question you need to ask yourself is, what do I need my Virtual Sales Assistant to do to bring VALUE to my business? Once you have figured out this, you are ready to interview your selection of candidates and choose a Virtual Assistant with the exact required experience.

 

What Can You Outsource to a Virtual Sales Assistant?

At this stage you must be pondering the question – What exactly can I outsource to someone in this line of work? Surprisingly, there is a whole lot of work which you can hand over to a Sales VA. Think of a Virtual Sales Assistant as roughly a Marketing Assistant; they’re not only good at taking on tasks that you would rather not do, but they can add to yours as well as your existing sales team’s capacity in virtually (excuse the pun) anything that has to do with marketing and sales.

Let’s get a little more specific:

  • Telemarketing: This is not something you may always enjoy doing, but it’s often a necessary part of doing business. You can easily hire a remote worker who not only really loves calling people all day but is also highly skilled at this!  A virtual sales assistant can make outgoing calls to businesses on your behalf, as well as manage inbound calls.  Calling software such as Dialpad, has made this easy.  Gone are the days of having to onboard someone in a full-time capacity to sit in your office and make calls.  This way, qualified leads can be passed on to yourself or your top salespeople to do what they do best – close new deals!
  • CRM skills: The management of customer relationship software is usually key to adding to your sales funnel and creating a profitable and successful pipeline. This is something that you can outsource to an expert Virtual Sales Assistant. Give them the responsibility of making sure that every customer’s data entry is continuously updated with the latest information. You can also put your Sales VA in charge of following up with clients you haven’t heard from in a while or run email campaigns using your CRM software.
  • Outsourcing marketing strategy: Has your marketing strategy been stuck in a rut & aimless? Business owners can not only outsource basic marketing tasks but also outsource strategic thought when it comes to running the sales team and streamlining the sales processes. The fresh mind of an ‘outsider’ may just well be what your marketing strategy requires to give it a creative boost.
  • Sales assistant services: If your sales & marketing team needs an assistant who can grasp the basics of your most common sales & marketing tasks, a Virtual Sales Assistant can leverage their skills and experience to join your team nearly seamlessly.  The VA can even serve in an executive assistant role for the Sales or Marketing Manager.
  • Social Media Management:  Your Sales VA can be put in charge of managing all your social media platforms.  Think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Now, more than ever, business owners have to think creatively when it comes to running a successful, profitable business.  Making use of a qualified Virtual Assistant will unquestionably add great VALUE to your business sans the risk and hidden costs of permanent employees.

How Effective Is Email Marketing In 2020?

How Effective Is Email Marketing In 2020?

In modern times, it seems like social media is taking over and becoming one of the most popular and most used forms of marketing.  But in fact, email marketing is up to 40 times more effective than social media. Social media gets filtered, which causes content to not reach all social media users.  The buying process is also said to happen 3 times faster with email marketing.

“Just look at sites like Amazon, one way they continually get you to buy more products from them is by emailing you offers on a regular basis.”

Neil Patel – Co-Founder of KISSmetrics

Does email marketing still work?

Yes it definitely still works.  Email marketing still remains a very effective marketing method to use, for attracting and keeping customers.  Based on surveys conducted, it is noticeable that 91% of internet users access their email account at least once a day.  Most people would also rather receive business information via email.

Email marketing should definitely be considered as a tool to be used by businesses in their digital marketing strategy.  The content you use needs to be relevant.  Your company can get more sales and even more customers through using this marketing method.  Rather focus on quality over quantity

Email marketing allows you to perform A/B tests, it enables you to target your audience and  communicate with a more personalized approach.  By sending an email weekly or monthly, you can increase company awareness and attract more attention.

 

So how would you do this?

By allowing users to interact without having to leave the email.  You can accomplish this by using interactive content, questionnaires, games, quizzes etc.  It will allow the users to be more engaged with your brand.

You can make the process of buying even faster, which will boost sales as well.  Achieve this by giving your client the ability to make a purchase within the email.

There are excellent email marketing tools available that can be used to help and guide you to creating successful campaigns.

Find yourself an emailing software that uses tools in email campaigns, such as:

  • Reporting
  • Mailing list management
  • Analytic tools
  • Auto responders

Your subject line must grab the readers’ attention.  If you can catch their attention that way, they are more likely to open your email.

Go through your own emails, look at the email subjects that you opened and the ones that you did not open.  Why did those attract enough attention for you to open them?  Adding numbers to the subject line, “5 Ways to boost your sales”, “How to increase your reach by 400%”.

 

You need to plan your email marketing carefully

Because of the fact, that promotional emails are seen in the same light as spam, it would be beneficial if you personalize your email campaigns more.  Making your email interesting is important as well.  This will help you to catch the reader’s attention.

 

Ideas to use in your email:

  • Use interactive navigation bars
  • Polls inside an email
  • Rotating carousel of product photos
  • Enable customers to place their order via an email
  • News feed
  • Use emails as a feedback mechanism

It is important to reduce the number of emails you send. To avoid your email address being listed as spam, try not to bombard your audience with too many emails.

 

What lies in the future for email marketing?

It has been estimated that by the year 2023, there will be around 4.3 billion global email users, according to Statista and it is forecasted to grow at 19.60% from 2017 to 2025.

Email programs will become more and more personalized and more interactive.  With today’s technology it is possible for a business owner, to setup a questionnaire in minutes and to send it out via email marketing.

As we see a growth in the use of smartphones, we see an increase in email usage as well.  It has become so easy to quickly access your email account while on the go, in your lunch break, while cooking dinner, while standing in a queue.  You do not wait to be behind your computer to have access to your emails anymore.  And as user experience becomes better and better, consumers are more likely to use their mobile phones rather than using a computer.

 

So, are successful email campaigns still possible?

Yes definitely!  89% of marketers consider their email marketing successful.  Use some killer content, throw in some personalization, and you can easily create a really successful email campaign.

 

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!