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6 Reasons You Should Love Lists

Pencil in Hand, Laptop at the ReadyI share a lot of list posts and articles on social media and in emails to clients, prospects, friends, and peers. Some folks loathe lists while others love them.

In the spirit of the list, here are six (6) reasons you should love articles and posts with lists:

  • Sharing: As I said above, they’re really easy to share and most people find at least one point that resonates or shares new information.
  • Small Track Ideas: From a “one track at a time” perspective, you could look at the list and decide to implement one small thing that will improve your business.
  • Content Curation: You can save a list article (Pocket is a great app for this), and then curate many lists together into on very valuable resource library.
  • SCAMPERing: You can combine multiple lists, then eliminate items that don’t pertain. With the remaining items, write descriptions in your own words (or use the original author’s words and give them proper attribution). [More on SCAMPER as a creative tool]
  • Resources: Use the tips above (or any combination) and create an E-book offering or a slideshow to share.
  • Time Saver: When time doesn’t allow for either writing or reading, lists are a real time saver.

Whether you love them or loathe them, lists work. They get the clicks, they get the magazines into hands, they get shared, they get saved. And hopefully, some items on the list gets applied.

Homework assignment: Look around your store, office, or desktop and find a short list of things to share about your business or how your work helps the folks you serve.

Build Your Optin Email List

Always Good to Have on Hand

Dry cerealOn occasion, one of us likes to have a bowl of cereal. Not often, but it’s always good to have on hand for a snack or to calm down a stomach.

My wife likes hers with a bit of almond milk (and blueberries when we have some). I like mine dry and snack on it like chips.

It’s rare that we eat cereal – but it’s always on hand. A cupboard away and seconds to start.

Perhaps there are some social media tools like that.

Maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve uploaded a YouTube video. Or pinned an image to Pinterest. I was reviewing my Tumblr page the other day and wondering if it might be EASY to restart (undecided yet).

Just as already having cereal on hand is a convenience for those rare occasions we eat it, having a small presence on the popular platforms – even if simply to own your name – makes it easy to use on those rare occasions you might have something to share. It’s good to have ready and always on hand.

One “track” you might consider for a popular platform is to reserve your name, build your profile – and place it in your cupboard. It will make it easy to use when the situation calls for it. You’ll also be in a position to lend an ear in the crowded space as you see if there’s a signal there.

Image of Shreddies from Wikipedia

Ways to Subscribe to SmallBizTracks, ConverStations and Whistle Stops

Train Coming Down the TracksThe new year has brought a few new changes to how customers and readers of SmallBizTracks, ConverStations, and Whistle Stops can receive their updates.

You can still subscribe with a RSS feed, using an aggregator like Feedly. One of our first changes in 2014 was to change how we deliver the RSS feed. We’re now using FeedBlitz – here’s the why and the how of making the switch.

- Subscribe to the daily RSS feed

By using Feedblitz, we can set up an easy email delivery – either daily or weekly (or both). If you don’t use a tool likeFeedly, you can keep up with updates – and if daily is too often, the weekly gets delivered during the weekends.

- Subscribe to the daily Email or the weekly Email

Whistle Stops Weekly subscribers get the top tools and tips found on other sites during the week, plus a free Ebook each month. If you subscribe, you automatically receive a link to each Ebook that has been sent out.

- Subscribe to Whistle Stops Weekly

There continues to be attempts to publish a social stream of all the things we share on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. We’ve set up a site for things we share daily and it has its own RSS feed – so you can subscribe to a daily digest of what gets shared rather than keep up with those streams.

- Subscribe to Whistle Stops Daily (links and finds we share around the social media stratosphere)

Thanks for staying on track. Let’s keep our hands upon the throttle, and our eyes upon the rail.

Photo via MorgueFile by ancientecho1

Finding the Right Signal With Engagement

It’s noisy on the outside of a place a crowd gathers together – online and offline.  The din becomes louder as you enter. Enough noise to drive you away.

If you’re looking for a reason to exit, you’ll find it as soon as you enter. However, if you’re looking for a signal, simply engage.  First with your ears and eyes, then with subtle smiles and nods (if warranted) – and then your voice.

Crowded Outside Restaurant

New tools and platforms are going to keep on coming. Seek your signal slowly. You’ll find it with engagement

Photo on Flickr by Alex Ristea using cc

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Small Business Owners Can Be Freelancers Too (Saturday Videos)

Small town, small business owners are wise if they are experimenting and constantly looking for additional revenue streams. Much like the health food store owner who has a massage therapy studio on premises,  finding something that “partners” with something you’re already doing makes sense, and hopefully – dollars.

Here are a few ideas – in content and example – to spark your thinking towards additional revenues.

Conquering Fear to Starting Your Own Business:

How to Make Business Videos From Start to Finish (great content as well as example from Creator Up):

A few places to find freelance work:

And for your listening treasure:

New Podcasts for 2014

I’ve been gifted to find three new (and new-ish)  podcasts this year, worthy of an ear that wants to hear about improving several areas of living:

As a youth, Saturdays were filled with visual candy of cartoons in the morning and movie matinees in the afternoon. In 2014, we’ll be sharing Saturday videos from TED, subscriptions from YouTube, and other videos shared via feeds.

What Do You Do With That? in Friday Flutterings

Hush - Woman with finger to lipsIf you’re creating, keep creating. Get comfortable with the crap you create – not for use, but to improve your creation. Perfect makes Practice.

… There will come a time – and maybe already should be here – that every retail sales associate will carry a handheld device or tablet as part of the display merchandising and a way to assist in “showrooming” in a profitable manner.

… Do you do this? When I get up in the middle of the night for a drink of water or something else, I try to guess at the time. I’m often within 15 minutes of my guess. Like, almost always. What do you do with that?

… In doing some research for a client on making podcasts, I found a few music forums discussing “number of takes” and two things stand out: 1) Doing 10 takes to get a song right is not unusual and 2) to minimize takes, record in tracks. Small steps, hmm?

… Sites and apps like Whisper and Secret are launching and growing at high-speeds. People send in and read anonymous “secret” thoughts. Is the popularity because the secrets resonate or create desire? Both? And if these thoughts are so “secret” – does that mean so many are really “masking” that much among friends and family? Great study for story possibilities.

… When I was a kid, I thought it was a criminal act to call the President of the United States names in public. I still think it’s wrong. Maybe some folks should open a Whisper account.

… Okay, bottom of the bag of chips or crackers (we eat healthy ones) and only crumbs left. What do you do with that? We sometimes turn them into finer crumbs to put in meatloaf or a rice dish. We are not alone.

Previous Friday Flutterings:

photo credit: Daniela Vladimirova via photopin cc

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Social Media for Small Business: Driving Lessons

Empty Driver SeatSmall business owners who are just beginning to use social media, often want to know everything about how the whole thing works.

I wish it were more like how Seth Godin might describe explaining how a microwave works:

People don’t want to know the science of the microwave, but simply that they can put the bag of popcorn in for two minutes, be careful when you take it out because the bag is hot, and enjoy the movie.

With social media, many small business owners want to know everything about how it works right down to the code and syntax.

Hey… is this a response just delay getting started? Right? Getting your ducks in a row type-of-thing? Or perhaps this is an old-dog/new-tricks situation.

Listen, remember when you were first learning how to drive? You probably had very mechanical movements, right? You had to think about each move before you made it. Soon, though, you were driving with one hand on the wheel and a soda pop in your hand.

Social media is a bit like that. Once you find out your “What Kind and Why”, you can start building muscles using those tools. It might be a bit mechanical at first, but once you get a rhythm, it’ll be like turning on cruise control.

Leave the under-the-hood stuff for later – or even to the people you use to outsource that kind of thing.


3 Coaching Sessions in One Track

Social Media for Small Business: What Kind and Why?

Busy Traffic at Intersection“Just what is social media?” is a question on the minds of many small business owners. The question sometimes has a follow-up (though sometimes not said aloud), “…and why should I care?”

Social media has become such a wide variety of tools, practices, and theories – the first question is much shorter than the answer. The second question gets closer to a one sentence answer, yet still, “…it depends.

Let’s look at business-based social media like vehicles on a freeway (feel free to stay in the slow lane on this one). We don’t ask, “Just what is a vehicle?” because there are all types of different kinds and ways to use them:

  • Delivery Trucks
  • Service Vehicles (Hey, Culligan Man!)
  • Taxicabs
  • Company Vehicles with Magnetic Signs or Advert Paint Jobs
  • Tow Trucks
  • Buses and Passenger Vans
  • Food Delivery cars
  • Emergency Vehicles
  • OTR Trucks
  • Newspaper carriers
  • Civil Service and Repair Vehicles

And that’s just the business-related vehicles. Different shapes, sizes … and speeds. In addition, you have all the passenger cars and commuters – and all their different reasons to get where they are going.

Knowing that there are so many reasons and ways and usage types for both vehicles and social media, let’s ask, “What Kind and Why?”

Part of the answer is going to come from what kind of social media are your customers or prospects using and how are they using it? Another part of the answer might be what value will your use of social media bring to their lives – how will you use social media? Remember: Always with Your Customers and Prospects in Mind.

If you don’t know the answers about your customer, maybe casting the role of your ideal customer is a good exercise as a starting point.

Once you have an idea of the “What Kind and Why” your customers and prospects are using social media, we can find out what tools and techniques you might be able to employ. And then … you can learn how to drive.

Don’t worry about checking under the hood just yet.

3 Coaching Sessions in One Track

photo credit: daystar297 via photopin cc

Clap for the Click, Reward the Review

fingers using laptop keyboardWe live in an age of the Quick Attention Span and Instant Gratification.

When it comes to the digital landscape of social media and mobile usage, are we cutting efforts short by asking for the quick-action connect?

Maybe we get too excited about scoring social media with how many “Likes” or “ReTweets” or “Follows” or “Check-Ins” or “+1s” we receive.

While some of these actions are a small part of overall social proof, the quick-actions of a click doesn’t always translate into a new customer or transaction.

A suggestion for small business owners: Clap for the Click; Reward the Review.

Instead of asking for a “Like”, “RePin” or a “Follow” – I believe we should encourage reviews and comments. Reviews add depth and dimension to the findability and credibility of your business, especially for people who are not yet your customers.

  • Someone searching on their mobile sees the glowing review and decides to come to your place.
  • A friend of one of your customers reads their review of your service and decides to make the switch.
  • While reading comments, someone recognizes the name or face of a reviewer – and makes a decision in your favor

Getting the quick-action likes and follows are worthy of our applause, for sure. Yet, are we rewarding those who invest their time in a review?

The quick-action is similar to a high-five, but a review or comment is almost like a hug. The relationship goes deeper (you and that customer) and broader (that customer and their network)

Clap for the Click; Reward the Review.

Image courtesy of HubSpot

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Segmenting Your Daily Routine

Segments of a Daily RoutineThere are days where your daily routine gets a bit out of sorts. Too much of one thing, an emergency of some sort, or a cancellation or two can do that.

At SmallBizTracks, we believe in using segmenting large projects into smaller bits for a multitude of reasons. By employing segmenting to our “daily routine”, unexpected interruptions don’t become unnerving.

There are things at the top of my own daily routine, and to-do-lists within each of those items. There are days where I just need to decide that the bottom portion of the routine won’t see my attention.

If I miss the bottom portion two consecutive days, either I need to create smaller segments, spend less time on a segment or two, or temporarily rearrange the order.

Some small business owners find it hard to implement or continue with social media or creating and curating content. A few things you might consider as alterations to your routine, so as to fit these in:

  • Place these tasks in a higher priority on your list
  • Trim the time on some of your segments
  • Do them at a time when some other items can’t be done (early morning?)
  • Make an item a weekly item rather than a daily item
  • Cut out one item entirely from your routine
  • Delegate

You know the staples of your day. Segment your daily routine into bits of time that are manageable. In the end, these are all building blocks of your business presence.

The image on this post was created using the Clear App (there is a similar app for Android)

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