Wednesday, June 27, 2018

3 Networking Questions All Business Owners Should Use

When you’re networking it’s easy to fall into a rut, asking each person there the same questions: what do you do? How long have you been in business? Instead of asking routine questions that bore everyone you speak to bring a fresh perspective to the event. Asking engaging and interesting questions will help you stand out, and will lead to more fruitful conversations.

Here are three networking questions you should use at your next event.

How do you spend your time?

Many people are working at jobs that didn’t exist five or ten years ago. So the question ‘what do you do’ doesn’t always work at networking events. Instead, asking someone how they spend their time gives them runway to explain in fact how they spend their time and what they’re excited about in that moment. It’s an easy question to answer and will give you a better picture of the person you’re talking to than ‘what do you do?’

How can I be of service to you?

It’s easy to get caught up in what your business needs are. But what can you offer other people? How can you be a part of lifting up other small business owners?

Secondly, in the small business world, we survive by the help that we get from others. You want to extend the help you have to others so that they’ll be willing to extend help to you. You reap what you sow.

What’s the biggest challenge in your line of work?

Asking this question opens up a lot of options for the conversation. People like to talk about their challenges, so it gives your conversation partner a chance to blow off some steam. It’s also a learning opportunity for you. Knowing what challenges other business owners face can mean many things to you: a new opportunity to collaborate or expand, or a chance to hear about how another person faces their tough work days. Either way, this question is likely to lead to a truly engaging conversation.

Networking can be hard, but make it easier for yourself by asking these kinds of networking questions. Don’t get trapped in the same old, same old. Mix things up and walk away with a better understanding of who you just met with these networking questions.


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Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

9 Proven Anxiety-Reducing Strategies For Introverts At Networking Events

Networking events can be a huge source of stress and anxiety: a room full of strangers, potentially-awkward interactions and conversations you don't know how to start...or end. You're not sure what to wear, let alone what to say. You're thinking to yourself, "Do I have food in my teeth? Shall I go on?"

Perhaps you're going because your boss is requiring you to go, or because you understand the value of getting out in the world and building relationships to help your company grow. If events create anticipatory tension for you and/or leave you feeling drained, I’ll share with you some proven strategies to make it less overwhelming.

Practice a confident introduction.

First impressions matter. So practice in the mirrr or with a friend how to say hello with a smile and a firm handshake. Say naturally, “Hi, I’m _____, what’s your name?” and just like that, you’ve broken the ice!

I promise you, if this sounds scary to approach a stranger, know that everyone who is attending a networking event is there to meet new people, and many are just as nervous as you are. So, do them a favor by being the one to initiate the conversation, and they will feel grateful immediately.

Have questions in mind.

Now what? You know Stacey’s name, but are at a loss for words. Rather than jump to some of the trite go-to’s like “How’s the weather?” or “So, what do you do?” I’d suggest easing into it to try to build rapport and find kinship.

Ask a question like, “What brought you here tonight?” In many cases, their answer will illuminate a need or hope and you can build on that. Ideally, any question you ask will be open-ended enough that you can find clues off of which to build, and even better, see if you can help where they share about a need or want.

Get comfortable with the location.

If the event is out-of-town, and that adds an extra layer of being daunting, take the unknown factor out and familiarize yourself with the location and venue. A Google image search might be all that it takes.

Better yet, at the event, asking other attendees about their favorite restaurants and local spots can be a great ice breaker, and even lead to their offering to show you around while you're in town (which is a great way to deepen the initial connection).

If you are a local, this is a great time to show your expertise and share recommendations with people who are coming from out of town.

If everyone is local, but it’s a new venue to you, the same principles apply. Asking about it, its history, or use, is a great way to strike up conversation.


Research other attendees.

If the event gives you access to the list of attendees, you can research them on LinkedIn, read their articles, or check out their social media presence.

If they don’t have a list but have an app, see who else is coming. If there is a Meetup or Facebook event RSVP list, scrolling through those can do the trick.

This can be a great way to start a meaningful conversation about their brand, or discussing mutual connections you may have.

And a bonus of doing that is that you might find a familiar face which will give you some ease at the event.

Bring a wing-person.

Showing up alone and jumping in head first might be too much for you. If so, try to bring a friend or colleague so you can start your conversations together, and after you get eased in, break apart. An added benefit is that you are looking out for each other. So if I meet someone you should really know, I can introduce you, and vice-versa.

Set realistic goals.

Showing up and thinking you have to meet as many people as possible would stress anyone out.

Instead, set a more thoughtful expectation to meet 3-5 people and engage in a longer conversation with each.

Quality is more valuable than quantity in this case.

This will allow you to have great conversations with a few people, instead of exhausting yourself by flitting from one to the next (and as a result, barely leaving an impression).

Arrive during “introvert hour.”

I call the first hour of networking events “introvert hour” because it isn’t busy yet, and this can be a great time to make some initial connections. Use your early conversations as springboards to meet more people later on as the room begins to fill up.

Take breaks.

Starting to feel worn out? Excuse yourself to step outside, into the hall, or to the restroom. Take a breather, or give yourself a minute to tune out on your phone. Collect yourself, get your energy back up, and then go back in.

Position yourself for success.

Stand in high traffic areas where you are sure to catch someone looking for a conversation. Some of my favorites are caddy-corner to the bar or buffet exit, so that when someone leaves that station, they turn, and you greet them.

Another is close to registration, so as someone enters the space to figure out where to jump in, there you are!

Or, you can head to a table and know that someone will inevitably join you to take a load off or enjoy their food or drink.

Networking events are great relationship-building tools, so focus on the people in the room as people. Everyone heads to these events with the same goal of creating meaningful connections and meeting new people. If the group of people at one event isn’t inclusive or don’t align with your goals, it may be that the place or style of event doesn’t suit your needs. Don’t count out networking events as whole because of it: Research different event types and organizations to find ones that are aligned.

Image Credit: Unsplash, Photographer George Gvasalia

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Join WNFP Communities!

Friday, June 22, 2018

11 Branding Tips For A Better Company Image

When it comes to branding, most people think about logos and colors. But branding is about more than just recognizability. It's about the impact that you have on a customer and how it sends a message. The first impression can say a lot about a company, its values and what it does. Entrepreneurs should be thinking about the unintended impacts of branding. 

We asked members of the Forbes Agency Council about what to consider when thinking about branding assets. The answers given reveal a lot about what makes a good slogan, logo, name and more. After all, a company's branding is a visible, and often tangible, extension of the company. 

Forbes Agency Council members offer their best tips.

1. Clearly Identify Yourself 

While catchy names and cool graphics can be interesting, they do not do a great job of telling your story. Your company name, logo and slogan should provide insights into what you do and the products or services you offer. If you miss this opportunity, you will spend valuable time and energy on explaining the basics. That is time that could be used to further develop a relationship or share key benefits. - Korena Keys, KeyMedia Solutions 

2. Make It Easy For People To Understand 

Make it easy for people to understand what you do. Too many names are clever wordplay or have no meaning. Also, be certain to adequately find a campaign to publicize the brand. Sufficient publicity can do a huge amount to define the brand. - Peter Prodromou, Racepoint Global 

3. Let Your Brand Tell A Story 

Let your name, slogan and logo tell a story. Having a clear message behind your business will allow the consumer to grasp the pillars that your company embodies. - Danny Fritz, SBX Group 

4. Consider What Your Customer Will Think 

We've been a part of a lot of new logo designs and I'm routinely surprised that the customer is not considered during the process. Most times, the logo, slogan and company name are thought of by the entrepreneur before having even one customer. If you like a high-tech look and feel and are selling to an earthy, wholesome group, there will be a mismatch. Your logo or brand won't resonate with your chosen customers. Define your customer, then create your brand to attract that customer. Are you Toyota or Lexus? Payless or Tom Ford? Walmart or Target? - David Kovacs, Allegra Princeton 


5. Ask Why You Are Doing This 

You have a business that sells a product, but why do you sell that product? Of course, we all want to make money, but selling something to make money won't motivate the consumer to buy into your brand. Ask yourself: What difference will it make in the lives of the consumer who buys it? Start by building a foundation of who and why you are selling what you sell and work up from there. - Rebecca Kowalewicz, Clearbridge Branding Agency 

6. Create A Liquid Experience 

The most important part of branding today is creating a liquid experience. To many, that means repeating the same slogans and looks across all platforms. That is a mistake. A liquid experience is a cohesive branding strategy but also one that takes into consideration the user and audience in an intimate way. My advice when working on a first impression is to first work on the audience. Better yet, think about the tribe you want to reach and create a cohesive yet customized branding version for a peak user experience. - Jennifer Barbee, Destination Innovate 

7. Be Creative And Approachable  

The best company branding is a combination of creativity and approachability. When considering a name, logo and brand aesthetic, consider your audience as well as your brand category. There's a reason we go to Zappos for shoes rather than The most successful brands adopt a creative spin without deviating too much from what their prospective consumers expect from their product or service. -   David Harrison,   EVINS   

8. Design For The Long-Term 

Consider how your branding and logo will hold up over time. Communicating that a brand is cutting-edge or uber-hip may drive you to the trendiest of design trends. However, you may want to think about how to bring that message to life in a way that won’t look dated in five or 10 years. The crossed-arrow look might be in today, but if you plan to be around for a while, think again. - Keri Witman, Cleriti 

9. Try The ROI Principle 

We follow the ROI principle: relevant, original and impactful. If our brand strategy and brand development work achieves these standards, the client will make a desirable first impression in the marketplace. We take time to make sure that our clients are aligned with these ROI standards and encourage them to test our work with their past, current and "want to have" customers. Social media is a great platform to test ideas before taking them to the next level. - Alannah Tsimis Sandehl, IDM Brand 

10. Think About Extensibility 

Your branding assets are often consumers’ first impression of your company. What’s one factor to consider when coming up with a company name, slogan, logo, etc.? Understand that your business will go through changes as it pertains to the products it sells, the region it sells in and perhaps even the audience it is selling to. It’s important to create something unique to your business that represents the integrity of your company, but make sure it’s extensible enough to weather the changes that are sure to come over the years. - Lori Paikin, NaviStone® 

11. Pass The Radio Test

Depending on the type of your business, this can be super important. You want to make sure that your company's name is something that people can spell easily when they first hear it. If they can't, then you risk missing out on opportunities from people that just couldn't find you after (mis)typing your name. If I hear your company name on the radio, I should be able to find you right away. -   Rafael Romis,   Weberous Web Design  


Image Credit: FAC Members

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

11 Reasons Your Email Marketing Sucks — and 41 Ways to Fix It

Today’s inboxes are hammered with digital marketing messages, spam, forwards, newsletters, and notifications. People check email at red lights and while watching TV. (Don’t get us started on the ones checking mail at the movies.) While email marketing remains the best way to reach leads and existing customers, it’s harder than ever to cut through the clutter. Avoid these common email marketing mistakes and you’ll come out on top.

1. You’re not segmenting your email list.

Who are you talking to? Picture your Netflix account. You probably have profiles set up. You, your wife, your kids. Maybe you share an account with your parents. Each audience has unique tastes. The viewer who loves car chase movies doesn’t want to watch British period romances. The viewer who watches Pokemon doesn’t want to catch up on Game of Thrones.

Show people what they want to see. Your email marketing list consists of just as many audiences. College-aged kids looking for a fun night out. Sales professionals trying to make a big win. Retirees who have put off their next doctor’s appointment and want to feel better. The days of spray and pray marketing are over and today’s consumers expect highly-targeted messages that give them what they want, when they want it.

Want another reason to segment? According to MailChimp, segmented campaigns see over 100% higher open rates than non-segmented campaigns. They also have higher open rates, lower spam reports, and lower instances of unsubscribing.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Segment your email marketing contacts into lists and sublists based on customer data.
  • Don’t forget to create suppression lists. These are people you’re not marketing to at the moment.
  • Add checkboxes to forms to gather additional information—zip code, birthday, interest groups—from your visitors.
  • Don’t forget to be GDPR compliant.

2. You’re not A/B testing.

This isn’t time for instincts. When it comes to email, the only thing you should trust your gut for is digesting your food. Clever marketers don’t try to predict whether or not an audience will love a call to action, subject line, or image. They use A/B testing.

Go to war. Think about it as a battle to the death. Using the email automation software of your choice and a robust recipient list, test your content to see what performs best. Solid programs will send your test emails to sample audiences, and automatically send the winner to the bulk of your contact list. No more guesswork.

This is a rare opportunity to know exactly what’s working and build on that. A/B testing helps you determine what your audience is connecting with (and what they’re not connecting with.) Your emails will consistently perform better when you optimize them regularly.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • A/B test the subject line of your next big email promotion.
  • Test the next email’s image, offer, or CTA. Only test one thing at a time. This is a science experiment.
  • Keep your variables to an absolute minimum to know which changes mattered.

3. You’re not automating your email marketing.

You have a lot to say to your prospects and current clients. But, you probably don’t have time to manually send all the emails you know you should. Reminders, newsletters, thank-yous, promotional offers, and so on. Email marketing could take you all day …. That’s where email automation comes in.

Get your finger on the trigger. The key to a successful automated nurture campaign is to first know what actions or behavior should trigger the email workflow. Triggers are actions or behaviors on your website or at your location, such as filling out a form, downloading a coupon, or abandoning a cart.

Remember: email marketing is about nurturing, not selling. Dig deep into what your recipients want and need. How can you help them solve a pain point? Remind them how good it feels to actually enjoy their destination wedding rather than agonize over all the planning. Offer tips that help them apply for a law degree with less stress. Close with a helpful promo code, or the opportunity to book another experience.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Map your customer journey to find the “triggers” for your email marketing.
  • Set up automated workflows that move guests through the funnel by delivering the right message (and the right deal!) at the right time.
  • Make sure workflows move customers out of one list and into a new one as they evolve from a lead to a new customer to a loyal one.
  • Add helpful reminder workflows. Shopping holiday coming up? Remind them to grab that gift.

4. Your newsletter is selling something.

Don’t send a crappy newsletter. People sign up for newsletters because they anticipate value in their inbox. While that value may come in the form of exclusive discounts and opportunities, it should also make them smile. It shouldn’t waste even 30 seconds of their time with content that’s all about how great you business is.

Short. Sweet. Helpful. Your newsletter should be genuinely fun to read. (Not just fun for your mom to read.) That means limit “news” unless it’s truly interesting, don’t toot your own horn, and keep it nice and short. Think brief tips, at-a-glance event schedules, and exclusive coupons. The end.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Revise your current newsletter. (You do have a newsletter, right?) Would you read it?
  • Review delivered, open and click-through rates.
  • Establish benchmarks and share more meaningful content to increase those numbers.
  • If it isn’t working, A/B test different subject line styles, delivery days and times, images, and content.


5. Your emails don’t work on mobile devices.

Be responsive or go home. Around 80% of your contacts will open your emails on their phones. To get the full picture of what that means, imagine what most people are doing when they open their email on their phone. (Hint: They’re often at a red light.) Your email marketing needs to speak to those people, even if you think they should put their phones down while driving.

No more squinting. Responsive emails adjust instantly and elegantly depending on the screen size of the viewer. Every single email you send should be coded to be easy to read and scroll on a cell phone screen or on a tablet. Emails that aren’t mobile-friendly get deleted because no one has time to try to read microscopic fonts or click on tiny calls-to-action. (What is this, an email for ants??).

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Start using a responsive email template.
  • Email code is notoriously finicky across platform, software and screen combinations. Use your email software testing tool on every email you send.
  • Remember the red-light reader. Put the most important information up front and make it large enough to understand in a 5-second scan.
  • CTAs should be big enough to tap with a finger. And not too close together.

6. There’s no call to action in your emails.

Make something happen. Every email you send should have a purpose. (A strategic purpose, not an existential purpose.) Even helpful, non-salesy emails should have a call to action. Book a consultation. Attend an event. Read a blog post. Download a coupon.

Emphasize the action part. There’s nothing wrong with falling back on the old stalwart Learn More as long as you’re asking your reader to do something. Stick to action words. Be as concrete as possible. Book a Massage is better than Start Relaxing. Email marketing calls to action are not an exact science, and you should anticipate tweaking and optimizing them on an ongoing basis to get the results you want.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Review all of your marketing and nurturing emails. Make sure they have a call to action that aligns with the appropriate stage in your customer’s journey.
  • Set up tracking links using or a platform like HubSpot so you can test the CTAs across a variety of campaigns.
  • Test and test and test again. Colors, copy, sizes, and placements can all affect CTA performance.

7. Your emails have too many calls to action.

Whoa, slow down. People don’t like too many choices unless we’re talking about those amazing soda machines that let you make peach ginger ale and grape sparkling water. Many marketing emails have failed by containing too many links, effectively paralyzing the reader.

Focus. It’s normal to have an impulse to offer your readers lot of options. For family entertainment center marketing, it might make sense to pull out all the stops. Pizza. Rides. Escape rooms. Drink deals. Cool events. But to get the best click-through rates on your emails, you must narrow it down to one, or maybe two, calls to action. You can always send more emails, and each one will perform better if you focus your call to action energy on one invitation to click.

And while you’re focusing, make sure that you send your reader where they think they’re going. Don’t bait and switch. That makes people angry, and angry people don’t schedule fun into their agendas. (Even though they probably should.)

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Audit your emails and double check for too many links. Narrow it down to one impactful, compelling call to action.
  • Newsletters get a bit of a pass here, if done right.
  • Use text-based links and a few choice buttons, and keep it as easy to read as possible.
  • Check the language of your call-to-action against the link destination. Are you delivering on the CTA’s promise?

8. Your emails are too long.

The clock is ticking. Remember that person reading the email at a red light? Well, that red light just turned green. And your email is marked as read, and they’re never going to open it again. Your email was too long.

Streamline every email marketing communication. When you compose your emails and your newsletter, imagine your reader in line at the grocery store or about to be called back from the waiting room at the dentist. You have mere seconds to get your message across. Use quick, snappy headlines. Don’t oversell or over think or over describe anything.

Emails should be visually appealing and simple. Small chunks of text with easy to read buttons and plenty of color contrast. Think mobile first at all time and you’ll produce marketing emails that your guests can digest and act on no matter where they’re reading. (Because yes, they could very well be on the toilet.)

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Fall out of love with your words! Keep it simple and to the point.
  • Read your emails out loud and make sure they’re conversational and quick.
  • See if you can shorten your message by at least 30%. Now do it again.
  • Does the design of the email help a reader scan for information. Colors, icons, and buttons help guide readers quickly.

9. Your emails have the same old subject lines.

Subject lines are the gatekeepers. If you can’t get a reader to open, you’ve lost the battle. Your thoughtful call to action, beautiful images, and elegant words will go to waste. So how do you cut through the clutter of an inbox? Very carefully.

Surprise them into opening. Plumbers around the country send very similar emails. Your industry is no different. You’re working against a flood of information that people are becoming increasingly numb to. Subject lines are your chance to stand out.

Consider personalization, emoji, and surprising language. This is where the A/B testing you’ve decided to embrace comes heavily into play. Try testing literal subject lines against very short, baffling subject lines. Test giving away the contents of an email versus offering no insight into the content of an email. Your recipients will show you what works and what doesn’t, and you can build on that — without growing complacent. This is ongoing work.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Pay attention to what gets you to click. Pay attention to what gets your leads to click.
  • Test a wide variety of subject lines.
  • Avoid the Promotions tab and the SPAM folder by keeping salesy exclamation marks and percentage symbols out of subject lines. Also, emojis are fun, but too many can trigger the SPAM police.
  • Try A/B testing with short, long, personalized and generic subject lines.

10. You’re not tracking email marketing analytics.

Do the (fun) math. Email analytics are useful. They’re also addictive once you start looking. Don’t shy away from these numbers. They’re there to guide you and steer you away from judging the success of emails based on your instincts or feelings. Data doesn’t lie.

Optimize emails based on past performance. Any email automation software worth its price will give you a ton of insight into email performance. Never send it and forget it. Schedule time to regularly dig in and monitor the performance of your emails. Pay attention to open rates and click-through rates. Track how often you lose subscribers.

Data is only valuable with context, so compare against average industry performance and keep in mind that segmented, targeted emails will always perform better than emails you throw at your entire audience. Both have value in their own right. There’s no magic number that indicates success, but you should strive to improve the numbers you see and ensure that they don’t consistently drop.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Get familiar with your email software to see what you can measure.
  • Set benchmarks based on your average open rates and click-through rates.
  • Experiment with various elements to try to improve those numbers every time you send an email.

11. Your emails are all about you.

Don’t be the annoying guy at the cocktail party. Ultimately, people don’t want to hear about how great you are. They want to know what’s in it for them — or better yet, they just want their lives to be improved in some way by the media they engage with. Sometimes that’s a major perspective shift when you’re the person in charge of crafting marketing emails. But you can do it.

Provide value at every touchpoint. Value is a big, vague notion. In order to know what your guests find valuable, talk to them. Pay attention to how they interact with your emails. Survey them. Treat readers like humans, not pieces of data. Give them something useful in your emails, and the ROI will follow.

This can feel counterintuitive when you’re trying to move the needle and grow your business, but it comes down to this: If your emails read like advertisements, they will be ignored. Consistently. It takes more effort to send great emails, but the return is tangible if you nail it. You’ll convert contacts to leads, and you’ll delight existing guests who will mention you in car line, and in the break room, and via text — in all the places you can’t track. (Yet. The future will most certainly be increasingly creepy.)

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Figure out what your guests truly care about. (Open and click-through rates are a good place to get that information, or you can ask them!)
  • Make sure that every email you send focuses on the needs of the recipient, not the needs of your business. What value are you bringing? How are you making their day brighter?
  • With every email, ask yourself: Is this for me, or is this for my customers?

You can fix your email marketing. 

Testing frequently, nailing your frequency, providing value in the content you send and personalizing your messages are important, but it all comes back to respect. Respect your contacts and much of this will fall into place naturally.


Image Credit: N/A

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Friday, June 15, 2018

5 Ways You Can Earn a Better ROI with Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Whether you’re marketing to consumers or other businesses, and regardless of the industry you’re in, these five key email marketing best practices have a direct effect on the success rates of your email marketing efforts.

1. Timing

Email marketing funnels include a sequence of messages that are automatically sent out (or “dripped”) at specific times. You set this timing up when you create the automation in your email marketing tool. Since the power of email conversion funnels is in their ability to remind, engage and persuade contacts to take specific actions, the timing of when people receive your messages matters a lot.

If you were speaking with someone, would you tell them something and then continue to remind them every five minutes? If you needed to call a prospect to close a sale, would you call them twice a day, every day, or every other day? How often is too often?

Most email recipients act on a message within 24 hours. Therefore, an automated sequence of messages should be configured to send messages every two days unless there is a deadline or other urgent reason that requires messages in your funnel to be sent more frequently. You can extend the number of days between messages when you reach the third message in a sequence so it doesn’t seem like you’re spamming people with too many messages. Your goal is to find the right balance that your audience will accept between staying in front of your contacts and looking like a spammer.

2. Offer

The heart of every email conversion funnel is the offer to your target audience—what they’ll get in exchange for taking the action you want. Your offer must be extremely relevant to the target audience and highly desirable, or they won’t be motivated to act. In other words, your email conversion funnel won’t convert. 

Therefore, spend time researching what your audience wants and needs. Search Google, online forums, question sites like and your competitors’ content to find the problems and pain points that your target audience is seeking solutions for, then offer those solutions in your email conversion funnels.

For example, you could create an email conversion funnel to motivate people to read your new case study, join your upcoming webinar, watch your latest video or buy your product or service. The trick is matching the offer to the audience depending on where they are in the buyer journey and where you want to move them to in your overall marketing funnel.

3. Subject line

It could be argued that the subject line of each message in your email conversion funnels is the most important element. The reason is simple: If your subject line isn’t powerful enough to convince people to click and open your messages, you have no way of converting those people. Your subject lines should be short enough to fully display in most email inboxes without being truncated. With that in mind, keep your subject lines shorter than 50 characters. The best subject lines are interesting and pique the recipient’s curiosity. Address the audience’s pain point and the solution you’re offering, but keep your subject line clear.

It’s also very important that the content of your messages matches the expectations created by your subject lines. Not only will recipients be unhappy when they click through a subject line to discover the content of the message is unrelated, but doing so can also destroy your chance of creating brand trust. Ultimately, you could lose conversions because of it and increase unsubscribes.


4. Design and messages

Make sure your messages are well designed and look professional to create the perception of quality and build trust with recipients. Furthermore, they should be optimized for all devices. This is particularly important since more than half of email messages are opened on mobile devices today.

Unless your product or service is complex, shorter messages are almost always better in email marketing. The truth is, most people don’t want to spend a lot of time reading email messages, so keeping your messages succinct is a good rule of thumb. Just make sure your messages are compelling, action-oriented and tap into recipients’ emotions. Explain what recipients get when they follow your call to action and how that action benefits them by addressing their pain point or solving their problem. In addition, be sure to use a real reply-to email address and your real name in your messages and signature to improve the authenticity and trust factor.

5. Follow-up

What happens when your email conversion funnel sequence is done? Don’t abandon people in the funnel when it’s over. Instead, make sure you continue to nurture and engage them with future email campaigns and automations based on the behaviors they display on your website and when interacting with your future email messages. This is essential even if the conversion funnel ended in a sale. The relationship isn’t over when someone makes a purchase. In fact, the relationship is even more important because it costs less to keep an existing customer and turn them into repeat customers and loyal brand advocates than to attract new customers.

For people who purchased products at the end of a conversion funnel, continue to send them your email newsletter as well as renurturing and re-engagement messages that continue to build a stronger relationship with them.

Image Credit: Tolgart | Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

These 5 Entrepreneurs Can Show You the Way Personal Branding Should Be Done

Never underestimate the power of a personal brand. The idea is simple: Use your personal identity as a branding platform separate from your corporate brand, relying on your personality and expertise to attract your own followers and build a reputation. Once in place, your personal brand can be used to support your main venture or provide a launchpad for your next one.

Creating a personal brand sounds easy, but in practice, it demands consistent ongoing attention, the right blend of tactics and of course, the right balance between your corporate and personal brand. And, as is often the case, one of the best ways to improve your own approach is to look to the approaches of others who’ve had success.

Take, for example, these five personal branding experts: 

1. Richard Branson

You know Branson as the visionary founder of Virgin Group, which started as a record shop and has since expanded into areas as diverse as space travel. The company thrives on its own merits but was certainly helped by Branson’s fun, outgoing and playful personality. He’s known for putting his employees first, and frequently blogs about his perspectives and experiences. If that weren’t enough, Branson has attempted to set several world records at physical feats (sometimes risking his life in the process) and is often acknowledged for his down-to-earth mindset.

Key takeaway: Likability is a huge bonus. If people think you’re friendly and easygoing, they’ll be more likely to follow you, and potentially more likely to buy whatever it is you’re selling.

2. Neil Patel

Neil Patel is a co-founder of Quicksprout, KISSMetrics, and Neil Patel Digital. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author and someone who's been named a top online influencer by The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Entrepreneur, is a current or former contributor at many major online media publications (including Entrepreneur) and has a blog that generates 2 million visitors per month.

Moreover, he's spoken at over 270 conferences and companies, has a Twitter account with over 294,000 followers and has a YouTube channel with over 3 million views. Oh, and he has a podcast, too.

Key takeaway: More isn’t necessarily better, but making your personal brand available on more channels can open you up to more possibilities than you’d otherwise find. You’ll reach a bigger audience and build brand recognition in the process.

3. Rand Fishkin

The co-founder of Moz, Fishkin has stepped away from the day-to-day operations of the company to focus on a new startup, SparkToro. Fishkin still contributes regularly to the Moz blog, and is well known as an influencer in the SEO industry. He’s also blogging for SparkToro and is active on Twitter, with more than 410,000 followers.

Key takeaway: A personal brand can be the connective tissue between one venture and the next. Think of it as an insurance policy to guard your reputation and provide a springboard to your next opportunity.

4. Elon Musk

Musk’s personal brand is the one commonality in his complex web of companies and vested interests, which includes Tesla, SpaceX, the Boring Company and PayPal (not to mention the Musk Foundation). Musk can often be found cracking jokes with people on Twitter, and is known for a host of strange personality quirks and stories about his background, including paying his way through college by hosting parties with cover charges (then eventually dropping out) and hosting famously short meetings.

Key takeaway: Be yourself. Exposing some of your strange habits and unconventional choices will serve to differentiate you from the masses, which is vital when millions of other profiles like yours are competing for attention.

5. Sheryl Sandberg

You might recognize Sandberg's name as the COO of Facebook, but it’s her book, Lean In, which has helped her to amass a fortune, establish a powerful reputation and influence millions of professional women. This has happened through, which helps women in more than 160 countries accomplish more in their personal and professional lives.

Part of Sandberg’s power is her open, public personality; she openly discussed the tragedy of her husband’s death a few years ago and partnered with a psychologist to write a new book about overcoming adversity (Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy).

Key takeaway: Don’t be afraid to make yourself vulnerable and connect to people who may be sharing your experiences. Personal brands are, after all, personal.

There are really no drawbacks to starting your own personal brand, short of the hours it takes to get one rolling (and maintain it indefinitely). Accordingly, it’s in your best interest to spend a few hours establishing a personal blog and potentially some social media profiles for your personal brand.

Even two hours a week spent writing, socializing and engaging with your followers could be enough to establish the momentum you need to support your current or future business.


Image Credit: John Lamparski | Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Friday, June 8, 2018

3 Common Mistakes Seasonal Businesses Make with Email Marketing

It’s no secret that small businesses rely on email marketing to communicate with customers, but what if you’re a seasonal business? Does email marketing have the same results? Are there differences in best practices? Do seasonal businesses need to be sending emails all year long?

The short answer is yes.

If you’re a seasonal business, you might be making some email marketing mistakes that could be costing you big time, resulting in lost sales, poor email analytics, annoyed customers, and even the risk of being forgotten.

Keep your marketing thriving year-round with automated email marketing tools from Constant Contact.

Are you making any of these common mistakes?

1. Going quiet during the off season

The biggest problem with not sending emails during the off season is that your customers forget who you are and how much they love you! This could lead to unsubscribes or poor email results with future emails.

Heidi’s Hill is a small scale ski slope in rural New Hampshire. Since they are only open and operating during winter months, that is the only time they are using email marketing. This seems to be working for them, however, the email they send out at the end of fall and beginning of their season does not perform well, and business is off to a slow start.

The reason their email performed poorly is because their contacts have not been thinking about them for about 6 months, or have even forgotten about Heidi’s altogether. If this business had been keeping in touch with customers during the off season, customers would be anticipating the start of the ski season and excited to see Heidi’s emails pop into their inbox.

Tip: Try sending at least one email each month to keep your business top of mind throughout the off season. This takes a very small effort and will ensure your customers stay familiar with your business.

2. Sending too many emails once the season kicks off

Your re-opening should be a big event and be promoted with email marketing. However, if your customers haven’t heard from you at all during off season, all of a sudden seeing a ton of emails from you could be overwhelming. You risk annoying your contacts and even getting marked as spam.

Another issue that comes with only sending emails during the open season is that there is a shorter time frame to communicate all of your information. Emails end up getting stuffed to the brim with content that will most likely perform poorly due to lack of focus. Remember, email marketing should be like a marathon, not a sprint.

Tip: Easing into opening season by sending consistently far in advance is like greasing up the wheels before a big race. It’s a great way to prepare your customers for the promotions to come.


3. Overlooking the value of consistent communication

As a best practice, consistency is very important in email marketing. Whether you send weekly, biweekly or monthly, just keep it consistent. This will build momentum, and your customers will come to anticipate and genuinely enjoy seeing you in their inbox, solidifying your relationship with them.

This relationship with your customers will not only knock your email results out of the park, it will keep you top of mind when they are ready to buy.

Tip: Create a schedule and stick to it! If you have a busy time frame coming up, plan ahead so your email marketing consistency won’t suffer.

Start thinking about how you can fix these common mistakes

If you’re seeing that your business is making these same mistakes, don’t worry, fixing them is easy. Email marketing keeps the conversation going all year, engaging your customers and setting yourself up for more success once your season starts.

Image Credit: Constant Contact

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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