E-mail Rules I Try to Live By

By: Chad Bell
A recent article in Business Week, Respond to All (Relevant) Email Yourself (April 13, 2010), started me thinking about the nature of building client relationships and the use of email. As business owners, we are acutely aware of the marketplace becoming more competitive everyday. Whether our business is acupuncture or general contracting, we will need to find ways to differentiate our business from competitors. One way to do this is to build strong relationships with our clients through email. While oftentimes email can be very impersonal, it doesn’t have to be.

Through the process of making many mistakes, I have learned some valuable lessons on how to use email effectively in regards to maintaining relationships with my clients. I want to share the 5 email rules that I believe have directly contributed to building stronger relationships.  Some of these may seem so obvious that we tend to neglect them in our day-to-day correspondences.

1. I respond to every email that a client sends! Even if I do not think it requires a response, I guarantee that the client does.

2. I respond to emails ASAP! I always respond the same day I receive the email and try to do so within 4 hours. I am mindful however, that my timeliness will set a precedent. If I respond to a client within 1 hour, then he/she will come to expect that in the future.

3. I send emails- not text messages or tweets! I am a professional, so my emails should be too. I always begin an email with “Hi (client’s name)” and sign off with “Thanks”.

4. I never attempt to resolve a conflict through email! This deserves repeating. I never attempt to resolve a conflict through email. I learned this the hard way, so now I always pick up the phone for this purpose. Email has its limitations and this is just one example.

5. I do not delete client emails! It never fails; whatever it is that I delete ends up containing a piece of information that I need at some point in the future. Whenever I feel the urge to delete something, I create a folder and label it with the client’s name or business and keep it there until that project is completed. I have 7GB of space in my Gmail account; that is a lot of emails, so I don’t worry about using up precious inbox space.

As my client list grows, I’m sure this list will as well. I have found that the quality of my relationships with clients has improved since I made a conscious decision to follow these rules. What are some of the lessons you have learned about email and client relationships? Feel free to share by adding a comment.

Sticky-er Notes: Using Evernote

By: Chad Bell
Oftentimes, there are just too many things going on throughout the day to remember all the details. But no matter the size or industry, every business can benefit from more productive work processes. If you are like most efficiency-seeking individuals, then you probably have a deep-rooted relationship with sticky notes. Whether it is via phone application or traditional pen and pad, the understated benefits of these notes include its simplicity and accessibility. Further up the food chain is Google Docs with its unparalleled ability to offer a free database for content sharing and collaboration. In addition to standard documents, the tool offers templates for file types including spreadsheets, presentations, forms, and drawings. While most people will have used or heard of Google Docs in their lifetime, hidden is the gem that is Evernote.

The organizational functions of Evernote can be broken down into 3 parts: “Capture everything”, “Organize it”, and “Find anything fast”. Arguably the best representation of what Evernote offers to users lies within its Web Clipper, which allows users to simply “clip” content from the web and save it onto a note along with a Title, file attachment, URL, and tags. Other avenues of which to create notes include PDF compatibility, personal Evernote email accounts, and Twitter updates (the many ways of which this can be done are highlighted and described in detail at the end of the article). While basic users can enjoy the benefit of sharing their notes to be viewed by others, members with access to a premium account can better collaborate through editing privileges. As knowledge sharing increases its dominance in the world of information technology, two choices become obvious: fight or flight. Applications such as Evernote allow for both a personal and professional adaptation to a content-heavy environment.

Evernote Essentials:

A) Setup

d/l for Mac: http://www.evernote.com/about/download/mac.php

d/l for Windows: http://www.evernote.com/about/download/windows.php

Create an account here: https://www.evernote.com/Registration.action

B) Understanding Basics

You can access Evernote through your web account or as a desktop application. When a New Note is created, there are options to set a title, add a tag, attach a file, or set a URL. *Differences highlighted below

Web account: Title, tags, *attach a file


Desktop application: Title, *URL, tags


C) Capturing information onto Evernote
1. Copy/paste
Basic click and drag, copy, and click on the Evernote Clipper icon in the Menu Bar to “Paste to Evernote” (first in shot of right side):


Follow instructions to use Web Clipper as an add-on/extension.

2. Shortcuts
This is equivalent to taking screenshots. Go to your Preferences and click on Shortcuts to personalize your shortcuts and play around/understand them:

3. File attachment drag & drop
Drag desktop files and drop in Evernote ‘NOTEBOOKS’ (top of L column)
*Free account compatibility: images (JPEG/PNG/GIF), audio (MP3/WAV/AMR), PDF, and digital ink files.

4. “Save PDF to Evernote” (from PDF drop-down menu in print dialogue box)


5. Email
Send other files (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDF, etc.) as an attachment to your Evernote address.
To find your personalized Evernote address, go to your Settings, and scroll to the bottom. It should look like this:


6. Sync Twitter to Evernote

Sync and send information to Evernote through Twitter by adding @myEN to the end of any public tweet.

D) “There’s an App for that!”

Mobile text, photo, or voice recording uploads.

E) Watch other instructional Evernote videos


SEO?…I So Don’t Know What that Means

I have quickly learned through experience as a newly hired intern, that SEO’s are a crucial part when it comes to internet marketing.  However, not having any idea what it was didn’t help. The first couple of questions that came to mind were: What is an SEO? What does it do? And why is it important? The exploration of these questions triggered a curiosity that most people only get when they are kids. But I didn’t care; I was ready to know the answers.
What is an SEO? The correct term for SEO is actually Search Engine Optimization. By using a search engine optimization the websites that are created are able to become further evident to the general public.
What does an SEO do? It can in most cases increase the amount of traffic that the website receives at any given moment.  Besides the websites that pay for internet marketing to show up on search result on search engines such as google or yahoo the website would then become naturally one of the first un-paid website to show up on the search.  All in all the idea behind putting a SEO’s on your webpage is to create more activity on your page, and in the long-run have a greater opportunity to increase: sales, marketing, job opportunities, or clientele.
Why are SEO’s important? The importance of an SEO is imbedded when it can change the way you do business all together. Internet marketing has become widely competitive, and having the proper SEO’s could always be beneficial to any website.
Curiosity might have killed the cat, but as for me, curiosity was another answered question.

Simple SEO Tips for Blogging

By: Chad Bell
Recently, a friend of mine asked me about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). He inquired,  “Isn’t it just putting words together that match your content? Like, if I was selling cars, wouldn’t I use “cars” as my title or something?” He had a point.

In fact, if you were to describe exactly what SEO does to a five-year-old, this would be a proper explanation. Theoretically, it is as simple as designating a keyword or phrase that relates to your content in the “Title tag” that appears at the very top of the browser window. Let’s say you wrote a blog article about a new car that you just put down a deposit for. Employing a basic understanding of SEO, you make sure that the word “car” is in the title and scattered all over the blog post. You may even have included pictures, video, and social media links. That was easy…who needs to worry about SEO? Whatever that means…

Now, try doing a search on Google for “cars”. Google’s organic search engine finds:

1. www.cars.com/
2. www. disney.go.com/cars/
3. www.imdb.com/title/tt0317219/

Google’s paid search finds:

1. www.Chevrolet.com/Cars
2. www.BayAreaAudiDealers.com
3. www.Buick.com/Car

The search query “cars” has “About 715,000,000 results”. That’s quite a bit!

So the keyword “cars” didn’t have much of an impact, at least not the impact you were looking for. Being the intelligent individual that you are, you realize the need to break down the keyword “car” to be more specific. Your new blog post is about the new Nissan Leaf Car.
So, you change your blog post title to “Nissan Leaf Car”.

SEO Tip #1: The title of your website/blog has a huge impact on your SEO score. You want to be as clear as possible and directly to the point.

Google the search query “Nissan Leaf Car” and 2,590,000 results appear. Not specific enough! You try again. “Nissan Leaf Electric Car” and “about 606,000 results” appear.
The search results are getting smaller but not small enough.

SEO Tip #2: Search Engine Optimization incorporates micro and macro elements, but 2 of the top 5 requirements for a successful SEO campaign are:

• Patience
• and more patience.

So patience and the right keyword(s) are all you need right? Maybe spend an hour or so typing keywords into Google search and hopefully you will find a set of keywords that brings up < 1,000 search results. Wrong! Remember, you need to use your brain! This is the age of information and you need to THINK of a solution that will get you faster to the end goal. Let’s step back for a second to remember what that is: you are searching for keywords to help increase your presence on the web. You are looking for the right individual and combination of words that people are searching for…you need a…Keyword TOOL!

Google provides a FREE keyword tool for this exact problem. By using this tool, you can get ideas of what people search for online. But this isn’t a one-stop shop. There are no guarantees; only possible solutions. After conducting some research, you decide to use “ev electric car” because it is the top ranked set of keywords. You change your blog title and come back a few weeks later to find only 15 “unique” visits to the blog post that took you all day to write (you were really excited about your new car)!

SEO Tip #3: Implementing a sound keyword strategy is crucial to a successful SEO campaign. But it is only one step of an endless list of tactics and measures that SEO experts go through to give you the best shot at being “top dawg”.
We haven’t even gone through the video, pictures, and social media you connected to your blog…

I turned to my friend and said “It’s something like that…”