It’s been a whole year…What this B2B learned in 2012

The Marketing Stylist brand is a year old this month.

In this first year I’ve met some incredible people, was blessed with great clients and even learned a few lessons along the way (that’s code for made some mistakes).

Here are a few things I learned from my first year as The Marketing Stylist.cupcake

The Voice
No, not the TV show. This had to do with my message. I remember struggling with this blog and what I would say. I struggled to find my voice in a room full of experts if you will. I learned that I could only be me. To try and imitate someone else would not be received and at best short-lived. So I write about marketing from my experience, from my perspective and it works. My guess is that being you will work too…your voice has a place and an audience as well.

Trust Your Gut
When starting a new venture, you can easily get swallowed up by the amount of information that’s out there. Colleagues may have suggestions about your direction, family members may have their say but at the end of the day, you have to trust your gut and listen to that inner voice. I’m thankful for the wise man who asked me tough questions like are you a coach or are you a consultant? Answering that question freed me to pursue what I knew what was right for me. I gladly stopped doing things that didn’t support the vision and goal of my brand.

Hello…is this thing on?
I have a new found respect for copy writers…good copy writers. Crafting messages to your target audience is not something you leave up to chance. You leave a place in your budget for these wonderful angels. Good copy and good design are a must. Poorly written copy will have you ask the same question the speaker who is obviously bombing behind the podium ask…is this thing on?

Take care
Your business means nothing if you check out early. You have to eat right, exercise and take a step away from your business to do other things. I’m a firm believer in doing things other than work to remind you that you are alive. This is sometimes easier said than done when you’re a one man/woman show. But it’s critical and you make room for it just like you do client calls and emails.

That’s my first year overview!

I know year two will have many more lessons for me and I welcome them.

Have a wonderful 2013 everyone!

Be Productive, Be Mobile, Go Google!

Today is a first here on Shop Talk! We have our first guest blogger, @Lela Donelson! I met Lela at a networking function here in Houston and what a smart lady! We did what good networkers are supposed to do and met for coffee and our paths have always crossed. I invited her to share her passion with you and I’m glad she obliged. Enjoy Lela’s post today!

Small business owners wear many hats. During the course of one day they may go from the office to multiple business meetings, Have a business or networking lunch, pick the kids up from school, then go to an after hours event after which they go home and look at their email before going to bed.  It’s a mobile world. Everyone has smartphones, laptops and tablets.  We are never far from some means of communication.  But how do we make our email, calendars, contacts and documents accessible from any device.  What do we use to create a document on the fly that we can access and edit from any of our mobile workspaces?  Many of us have Windows PC”s an iPhone and an iPad.  How do we make these two platforms play nice with each other?

The answer is in the cloud! Google will host your domain name email giving you  up to 10 email addresses at no cost and real time access to your email, calendar, contacts and documents from any internet connected device.  Add an appointment to your calendar using your tablet or laptop and view that appointment from your smartphone later without having to sync.  Create a document on your office PC and save it to Google Drive.  Open that document later and view it or edit it on your tablet while sipping a latte at Starbucks.    Send documents and information to a client from your smartphone while standing in line at lunch.

Google Documents hich are now part of Google Drive give you a full office suite. Create documents, spreadsheets, drawings, presentations and electronic forms using Googles free office suite.  Google documents are compatible with Microsoft Office but there are sometimes formatting issues when opened in Microsoft Office.  If you prefer to work in MS Office add the Google Cloud Connect plugin and all of your documents can be automatically or selectively saved to Google Drive for storage and access later.  Open and edit your MS Office documents on your tablet or smartphone using Cloudon, a free app for Androids, iPhone and iPad.

Google offers many more free services and applications to help busy entrepreneurs and small business owners stay productive but I would have to write a book to cover them all! Maybe I’ll do that!

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ABOUT LELA DONELSON

Lela Donelson facilitates and develops workshops on Google Apps and services and also trains and on Avaya, ShoreTel, NEC and other telecom systems.  She is the owner of Lela Donelson Training And Development, www.leladonelson.com and blogs about Google, iPhone and iPad apps, http:tipsfromthecloud.com

TMI: Too Much Information

There are some days I feel like an IBM 286 with a dial-up modem trying to process and keep up with all the information thrown at me on a daily basis. There are days when there is simply TMI…too much information.

I absolutely love my Twitter feed. Not so much for the content I put out but rather for the content of some incredibly smart people and businesses I follow. They post links to stories that impact my business and discipline, infographics that make stats easy to understand and then there are the tweets that make you laugh out loud. Literally.

And let’s not get started on my email inbox.

I’ve subscribed to great sites and have a folder full of white papers I really want to read. I promise I do but…

Much to my relief, I’m not the only one slow to process all this data. A few marketers admitted the same in a Facebook group I frequent and there was a confession left on my Facebook fan page. This fan opens her email twice a week and only reads personal emails. There goes some poor business owner’s open rates. I offered her the suggestion of unsubscribing from a few sites; something I did recently in order to cut some of the incoming mail and has offered a little relief. And unfortunately this will be the year some paid subscriptions will go unpaid.

I think our over stuffed inboxes and overflowing white paper folders speak of perceived value. Things I value get read regardless. The white papers I keep are kept for reference purposes. One day I might need for a client or I might be asked a question and I can refer back to the white paper that’s been sitting in a folder for the past six months. Then you have to wonder if the white paper is still relevant since technology and social media networks change and evolve constantly.

There are some tools though that can help you manage all your online information.

Delcious and Stumbleupon
When a Twitter link takes me to an incredible story or information I deem important, I bookmark it in Delicious. You can do the same with Stumbleupon but I prefer Delicious. You can list story with multiple tags/categories making it easy to find if you can’t recall the article title.  There’s a certain level of comfort in knowing information I like is nicely tucked away and will be easy to find when I’m ready. Unlike those times I do a mad cleaning and put stuff away and then can’t remember where I put it. Delicious solves that problem.

Twitter Favorite
If you’ve ever tried to go back and find someone’s tweet you know frustrating that can be. It literally is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Twitter now has a favorite button for tweets. If you like the tweet and know you’ll want to come back to it you can click the star making it a fav thus making it easy to find later. I can’t tell you how glad I am Twitter developers finally created this!

I don’t see this information overload slowing and whatever your field, you’ll always want to stay on top of trends and that means bulging emails and stuffed Twitter feeds. Managing it all then becomes a necessity. Hopefully Delicious and similar products help you to make sense of it all.

If you know of other tools, please feel free to share them!

Is clutter impacting your clarity?

This is a guest post by Genyne Vinson of Time2Spare. Genyne is an organizational aficionado, future blogger and “to-do” list killer. With Spring Cleaning and tax season upon us, she shares tips on decluttering your home and office.

Mental clarity can be greatly affected by our physical clutter.  Have you ever gone on a cleaning spree and afterwards you just felt lighter…like you could breathe deeper and think clearer?

Well, it’s happened to me numerous of times, especially when I’ve just let my clutter get completely out of control.  Letting clutter get out of hand happens to the best of us.  The good part is that you don’t have to remain stuck in that space and continue to pile on the clutter.

What helps me is to really get in tune with how my clutter makes me feel.  Now I know some of you say, “I work better in clutter.”, or “It doesn’t bother me.”, but at some point for most busy people it becomes unproductive to always have to search for something, especially when you are in a hurry.

When you are organized you can think better, because everything is in its rightful place.  It cuts down on the mental angst that we go through when we know something is there but can’t put our hands on it.

Ok, so if this is you, here are a few tips on “do it yourself” de-cluttering:

Visualize how it will look and feel when you are done.  Imagine your space being clutter free and organized.  This is a good motivator to finally go ahead and get started.  Or just really turn in to how the clutter is bogging you down and wasting your precious time…that should get you moving.

Break up the clutter into piles, stacks or categories that make sense to you.  There is no right or wrong answer.  In whatever way you want to identify “your stuff” that is easiest for you to remember then do that.  Don’t worry about organizing the separate piles of clutter just yet, just get it all separated.

Look out for things to give away or throw away.  Either throw away unnecessary stuff or donate it if it could be useful for someone else.   If you are unsure about what do with it make a “not sure” pile and leave it until the end.  In other words, keep it moving.

Address one pile at time and finish it off.  Whatever it is…if it is shoes, income tax papers, or books…put all the shoes away, place all the tax papers into a labeled file folder, or put all books on a shelf or in the space just for the books.  Don’t move on until you have completed the last pile.

Be decisive and determined to clear the clutter.  Don’t linger too long on what to with something.  Make a decision and put it in a logical spot that makes sense to you.  Get rid of what you don’t need and remember your vision.

These steps allow you to see progress as you go along, especially if the clutter is way out of control.  It also compels you to commit to finishing because the piles should seem more manageable in smaller defined chunks.

Once the dust is cleared and the piles are gone, mental clarity returns, something you thought you lost is now found, and productivity flows more freely.

Happy de-cluttering…