Timing is Everything

I just received an e-blast from a major New York steakhouse with the subject line, “Need a drink?” Um, it’s 10:00 a.m., so the answer to that questions is “no.” hurricane

Obviously the steakhouse is advertising a new cocktail promotion but at this hour of the morning, people are still on their first or second cup of coffee. An email like that should not be distributed until late afternoon when most people’s work days are winding down. Messages need to be timed accordingly so audiences will read them at just the right moment. For my clients, I generally try to opt for 10 or 11 a.m. (when many are caught up and settled in at their desks), or after lunch.

I actually deleted the email from the steakhouse but decided to retrieve it to take a peek at the content….which brings me to my second point:

If you’re going to send an e-blast to customers, make it worth opening. Why not include a striking visual of the martini you’re promoting, or better yet, a happy couple sipping the martinis? When I opened this particular restaurant’s e-blast, it was simply a yellow banner with links to the restaurant’s social media pages. No imagery, no copy. Just lots of white space. That tells me that the steakhouse just threw the email out there; to send it just to send it. If you’re not going to make an effort to jazz up your content, how can customers be sure that you’re going to make an effort in the kitchen or at the bar? It’s just plain sloppy marketing.

My third and final point has to do with frequency. It drives me crazy when I receive too many e-blasts from one particular business or organization. In the case of the steakhouse, I get one a week, which in my opinion, is way too often for a restaurant. Eating and drinking establishments should save mass email distribution for special occasions, like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day menus, or Open Mike nights and poetry readings. In the case of nonprofits, you can get away with greater frequency (especially during end-of-year appeals, but even those emails should be spaced out accordingly). In each instance, messaging should target a different angle or program to vary the content and keep people reading.

Bonus point: Don’t forget about social media. Before drafting your e-blast, think about it: is this the right communication channel for this particular message? If you’re running a campaign, perhaps the information needs to go viral. In that case, social media is definitely the way to go. Using hashtags and tagging the appropriate contacts are surefire ways to drum up traffic and place you in the spotlight.

Advertisements

Long live the business card

Remember when business professionals always carried a card on them? “Here’s my card,” was an undeniable part of business speak, especially when wheeling and dealing.

Now, you don’t see that as much anymore. You’re referred to people’s LinkedIn profiles or Facebook pages or Twitter handles. One quick search on all these sites and you’re able to connect with a person in minutes.

While a lack of paper business cards might be good news for tree-lovers, I think it’s getting in the way of our identities. A business card is an extension of our brand; it’s a way to present your contact information in a compact, portable channel – something that people can keep handy when they want to give you a ring or drop you an email. If people want to find you on social media, your handle names are right there on the card – all in one place.bizcard

Sure, not having business cards means less to carry and yes, it is a cost-saver if you don’t create them, but if you want to build a business rapport with someone, you must carry some with you. It’s simply more personal. And most importantly, they make you stand out. They have your unique design on them. You’re not just another LinkedIn profile blended together with all the other Richard Joneses or Jennifer Smiths.

Heck, even in the social scene, people don’t write down their phone numbers any more. If I meet a guy at a party, he’ll tell me to find him on Facebook. Um, bad idea. Do I really need to see photos of his ex? Nope. A simple pen and paper to write down a phone number is fine; but nobody carries around writing instruments any more (except us writers).

Socially, people also type their numbers into people’s phones. “Put in your number and I’ll text you so you have mine.” What if I don’t want your number in my phone? What if we go out once and the date is horrible? Yes, you can delete the number easily, but there’s something about physically holding a piece of paper (or a business card) that’s more relaxed. I feel comfortable knowing that the number or email address is there should I decide to reach out. Once a number is programmed into a person’s phone, it immediately leads to a deluge of texts. It’s added traffic I don’t necessarily want. You don’t make the address book cut unless I know there’s going to be a repeat connection.

On a sentimental note, I’ve cherished cocktail napkins or post-its containing names and numbers of guys I’ve liked. They become warm and fuzzy mementos of the time we met. You can’t say that about an electronic contact; they’re just digits in a phone sandwiched between your accountant’s and your hairdresser’s.

KellyKassEditorial Launches!!

Today I unveiled my new website, http://kellykasseditorial.com. Many thanks to everyone who’s given me lovely feedback including Liking my Facebook page.

While I’ve written for multiple channels over the years, there’s nothing like having your own “baby” and seeing your name in lights, so to speak. As writers, we don’t always get credit for our work; we’re often behind the scenes crafting the words to make businesses shine. (And I’m certainly not complaining about that!). It’s simply what we do.

Of course, I’ll continue to blog on WordPress, but be sure to stop by my Facebook page for additional commentary and writing tips.

Thank you!

The 3 C’s Every Freelancer Needs to Follow

Freelance life can be isolating at times, especially if you tend to work from home like I do. The solution: to stay as connected as possible.

Connectivity is critical when you’re trying to maintain steady work. No longer can you only rely on word-of-mouth and your tried-and-true clients or production companies who have always called you for work. Budgets are shrinking. No one is spending money like they used to. So it’s up to us as freelancers to build new relationships.

That’s where social media comes into play, helping us foster a sense of community where we can network, share knowledge and create conversations.

Sure, everyone and his brother are on Facebook but let’s face it, the majority of reasons why people are on there are to coo over their kids or brag about the wonderful meals they’re eating or the new cars they’re driving. In other words, Facebook is more for personal use.

If you want to create a sense of community with people in your field, Twitter and LinkedIn are the way to go, hands down. On LinkedIn, you can even join groups specific to your line of work. But I’m sure many of you know that already.

As for Twitter, I am amazed how many freelancers I encounter who are still unsure about how to take advantage of the popular social media tool. I suppose the problem might be that many feel it’s a tool for celebrities to boast about their latest projects or to incite feuds (such as the recent one between Kanye West and Jimmy Kimmel; the two have kissed and made up since then). Or perhaps people feel stifled since there’s a 140 character limit. Whatever the reason, people need to start using Twitter more.

I use it to link to articles I’ve written or to promote an event I’m covering. I also live tweet during conferences or television programs – any instance where my commentary might grab the attention of someone influential. In some cases, you may even get a re-tweet! Just don’t forget those hash tags so you can be a part of trending conversations.

While on the subject of Twitter, I have to give a shout out to The IC Crowd in London: Rachel Miller, Jenni Wheller and Dana Leeson are three lovely ladies who work in internal communication. They started The IC Crowd as a way to connect others who work in the field; much of the conversations they create occur on Twitter (and will soon continue on Google+). Since launching The IC Crowd a little over a year ago, Miller, Wheller and Leeson have worked to move the online conversations offline, hosting a Xmas drinks networking function as well as an unconference.

On this side of the pond, the Freelancers Union (headquartered in Brooklyn), often helps freelancers connect via networking events and other helpful resources.

So if you have connectivity and a sense of community with your peers, there’s a good chance collaboration will follow – the final C that you need to be aware of. With increased online exposure and regular networking, you’ll be able to stay up-to-date on who’s working on what and whether or not there might be an opportunity for you to contribute to a new project.

And of course, dropping some emails to your existing network of contacts never hurts either!

Words no job seeker wants to hear…and how to cope

Whether we’re seeking staff or freelance work, we all have to hunt. This means perusing sites like craigslist, mandy.com, monster, indeed, SimplyHired, LinkedIn and others. If you’re lucky, your cover letter and resume will stand out just enough to get that coveted phone call for a face-to-face interview (and trust me, that’s no easy feat these days).

So you meet with the hiring manager, have a great 25-minute chat and then you’re on your way. A few hours later, you send the courtesy email thanking him/her for their time so you remain fresh in their mind. And then you wait.

Being a native New Yorker, patience is not my best trait. I want something and I want it now! Unfortunately, that can’t always be the case (though you can get a mean grilled cheese at 3am at the local diner).

When it comes to seeking work (no matter what your profession is), you are at the mercy of employers. That’s just the way it is. The bright side is that as a freelancer, you automatically grow the ability to develop a thick skin. With that, comes the ability to identify all the typical catch phrases you hear when you don’t land a job:

“Thanks for your interest in the position, but we’ve decided to move in a new direction with it.” (North? South? East? West?)

“We’ll keep you in mind for future opportunities.” (That is, if we don’t wind up going with someone we already know!)

“We’ll be sure to keep your resume on file.” (Along with the 350 other CVs in our filing cabinet).

Bottom line: being turned down for a gig sucks. Especially after you’ve made the effort to dry clean your suit, prepare a portfolio and endure an hour-and-ten minute commute on two crowded subway trains.

When that happens, it’s important to keep your chin up. Allow yourself one hour of moping time, one or two phone calls to vent to friends, even a half-hour of mindless television to get your mind off the disappointment. Then, it’s time to get back on that horse and start all over again the next day.