An issue escalated, and I took the time to email each of the 3 parties individually, with their own unique email that pertained particularly to him/her.
Because I care.
Too often we think that including everyone on an email thread will make us seem helpful and informational. Unfortunately, your readers don't see it that way. While everybody likes a good mystery, business owners don't want to read through a 5 email chain to decipher why they got one, too.
Reasons you may have gotten that email:
1) The sender wanted to tattle, and thought Showing was better than Telling
2) The sender was attempting to be efficient
3) The sender simply doesn't have the technical skills to send you a pertinent attachment without the extra fluff
4) The sender feels powerless, but found the mighty Reply-All button
5) The sender is preparing to go to court (with you), and this email chain is about to make its way into evidence (sorry Judge!!!)
None of these are good signs!
How to de-escalate and communicate the issue efficiently:
1) Step away from the issue for a minute (hour or even a day). Take a deep breath. If you're panicked, you'll do something crazy.
2) Have the facts clear in your head (just the facts; not those pesky opinions)
3) Send a clear and concise email to each party. If you gotta "show" the facts, copy and paste the relevant portion of the email and explain:
"I was confused about the direction to take, because of Bob's email:
Bob said: I love unicorns!!!!!"
4) Give a resolution in each email, pertaining to each party:
Sally, let's go forward with moving the project deadline to the 30th!
Bob, let's talk by phone tomorrow at 3pm to figure out the unicorns!
Pat, we are handling the project and will notify you when we're ready for the rainbows!
5) Don't be afraid to pick up the phone! Sometimes we can get on the same page faster with a phone call.
Many business owners receive hundreds of emails a day (and I'm not talking about spam). These are real emails that require a response or an action. Forcing people to read through all of YOUR mail, too, is disrespectful and inefficient. If your organization requires ALL parties to read ALL emails, you won't be able to grow. If it is absolutely necessary to share all emails, change up your process. Instead of replying-all, just get together and play "office" in the same room together. Designate a reader, and when an email arrives, the reader can go ahead and share the details in real time! As a group, you can collectively reply. Your email address can simply be: firstname.lastname@example.org
In order to bring consistency to one of our favorite websites, we created a form for the client to fill out for inputting new information. The website features different Tours, and departure and arrival times are key to the operation. We were getting inconsistent formatting in the times (2pm, 2PM, 2:00 PM, 2:00 AM, 2ish) and a typical Date/Time field didn't give us the programming functionality needed to automate other features of the website.
Who knew it would be so hard to Google a list of times for a dropdown menu? I share this list here for anyone else who was trying to find a simple list of times to include in a form! Copy/paste at will!
5 Different Time Choices to Choose From:
To combine any of these columns, copy/paste each set into ONE column in an Excel sheet. Then sort!
Paste into Notepad to keep the list format. Then paste into your website.
Need to include some HTML? Do a Replace-All in Notepad:
Replace with: AM <br><li>
Replace with: PM <br><li>
You go to work every day. You punch in. You punch out. You carefully label your lunch and don't meddle with other people's office supplies. You're a good worker. You look in the rear view mirror before walking in to greet your colleagues and tell yourself hopefully, "Maybe today is the day I'll get a raise."
Sorry. Ain't gonna happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever--not like that.
Raises don't just happen. They don't just fall out of the sky. They're not rainbows. They're not unicorns.
Raises do not come to those who wait.
But why not? I deserve a raise, don't I?
I dunno, DO you? A business owner has a lot on the line and quite frankly, often doesn't know if *she* is going to get a cut from month to month. You were hired because a business owner needed help; and hiring you was probably long overdue, but once you were hired, the business owner realized, "Shoot. How am I gonna afford to feed all these people AND train these people AND pick up the slack when they tap the snooze icon too many times? Can I raise my rates? Can we find a more innovative way to do business? Maybe I can just stop sleeping for a few months."
Rainbows and unicorns don't just fall out of the sky for business owners either.
Every business owner dreams of the day when a new hire knocks assertively at her door, enters, sits down and says the following:
Boss Ma'am, I would like to present a plan I've been thinking about. I noticed that Teddy, Bill and Sally are awesome at organizing and generating content. I also noticed there is some down time when we're not on the phones from about 10am-11am each day. I was wondering if we could take over the social media work that Big Mega Co. has been handling for you during that time each day. I hope you don't mind, but I went ahead and looked at your contract with Big Mega and according to Section 14 we can pop right out of that contract at the end of this month. It looks like you're paying Big Mega about $800/month. Would you be willing to give me a raise of half that amount to handle the management and responsibility of this task?
Sold. Done. Immediate raise. Promotion. Partner in the company by the end of the year.
But I'll take over the social media for my company. Do I get a raise now?
No. Getting a raise isn't about taking on more tasks; it's about taking on more thinking. A small business owner's brain looks like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory--on steroids. If you can handle just one chocolate slide, that frees her brain up to make more blueberry bubble chutes.
I like chocolate slides. Do I get a raise now?
Are you handling the responsibility to the extent that the owner would? More? Better? Beyond? Then, yes! A small business owner is in a place of being able to hire others because she has exceeded her customer's expectations and her company has grown. Her products and services are in demand. But considering we're not ready to clone business owners (yet), she has the unruly task of hiring/contracting, training and praying to God that her new team will love her clients just a fraction as much as she does.
How did my boss exceed expectations?
She did what the client *would have asked for*, if the client knew such a thing existed.
How can I exceed my boss' expectations?
The same way. Stop looking at your work as a job, and start looking at your work as a service. You are in the business of helping your boss, boosting her profits, and reducing her costs, and above all--easing the Willy Wonka chaos. Thinking in this way immediately increases your value. If you're there to HELP your boss now you can offer to do tasks beyond your job description. You can even offer to help with things that are fun for you, but clearly a chore for your boss.
But my boss makes a lot of money; shouldn't I get a fair cut?
The reason a boss will love you forever if you waltz into her office with a money-saving or profit-boosting proposal is because you're paying attention. You probably know exactly how much money you cost the company and how much money you make the company. Just because the boss is invoicing lots and lots of dollars doesn't mean she's taking any of it home. Companies rarely make tons of money over night; there are debts to be paid, investors, mistakes, blood pressure medication, and it all adds up. Instead of looking at your paycheck with a "gimme gimme" mentality, go get the facts. Find out if your boss has been coming out of pocket to keep you on the team, and more importantly--if your ideas can boost the bottom line!
But what if my ideas offend the boss?
Then it's time to start your own business. You have the confidence and the know-how to be an entrepreneur! Give your two week's notice and get to it!
Ok, ok, I'm not quite ready for that--but can I work for you?
You tell me! How can you help me? What's your pitch? What's your proposal? You've visited my website, you've seen my rates. How can you add value to what I'm already doing and tame the explosion of berrylicious goodness in my brain? Can't wait to hear it! :)
Angela Refsland, owner of Waking Girl Web Design worked for a small business over a decade ago, and asked for not just one raise, but two! After just three months, she noticed an ongoing problem and found a solution. She presented the solution, offered to implement the solution for more pay, and it was an immediate YES from the boss. Know what happened? Her colleagues resented her for it, because they had been waiting for 6 years for rainbows and unicorns. The work environment became too hostile so she asked to be switched from an employee to an independent contractor (no more taxes being taken from her checks), and have the freedom to work from home. The company agreed! And from there--it was an easy step to venture out on her own.
We were excited to see so many Waking Girl websites represented in the 2015 Best of Northern Nevada contest! Congratulations!! YOU make your business great; thank you for letting us tag along for the ride!
Best place to buy a firearm
Willey Brothers Firearms
Best tanning salon
Best pet boarding
Best doggy daycare
Best selection of local art
Best art gallery
Best independent art gallery
Liberty Fine Art Gallery
Best place to have sex in public
Johnny's Ristorante Italiano
Best toy store
Happy Happy Joy Joy
There's nothing more frustrating than putting together the perfect blog post, and then excitedly sharing it to Facebook only to find that a funky image appears. Maybe it's a distorted version of your logo, or a random image from your footer--whatever it is--it's NOT an image that will beckon folks to read your blog.
So what do we do?
Facebook does its best to pull a relevant image. It looks for the first image that is over 541 pixels wide.
Huh? Pixel-what? Is that like an inch or a mile? Or a magic fairy?
541 pixels is just over 7.5 inches. Don't have a ruler handy? It's about the length of an iPhone 6 (the regular, not the mega).
You said over 541. Does that mean I can just use images that are 3000 pixels wide and hope for the best?
No. Facebook has mass amounts of data to store, so it's going to go for the realistically sized image and will ignore anything that is so big it should be a background image.
Do I have to figure this out every time I want to blog?
No. Figure it out once and use this image every time you blog.
Will people get bored?
Yes. But few business owners have blog-itis, so if you're only blogging once a quarter (or worse--once a year), the consistent visual messaging will be welcomed by your fans.
Can't I just make my logo show up there?
Yes. Plug your logo into a graphic that is 541x541, save, and upload into your blog post.
But I don't want to deal with this every time.
Ok... depending on your website platform, you may be able to upload your logo at the 541 size. Test this out by posting to your mom's timeline before telling your fans.
Anything else I should know?
Facebook has a good memory. It stores stuff. You may need to re-create your blog post if you make a mistake.
And Facebook is fickle. If things don't look right, do a Google search to see if the Facebook Share Image dimensions have changed! Google: Facebook Dimensions.
There I was minding my own Facebook business when suddenly an avalanche of opinions started pouring through my feed. Logo this, logo that, city this, city that--honey, grab the pitchfork, we've got a logo to fight off!
In my decade+ of graphic design experience I had never seen design criticism in such magnitude. A whole city with an opinion! If only Logos were on the ballot in November, the polls would be filled!
I have been watching the Biggest Little City campaign for the last few years with glee, admiration and respect. I had the privilege of attending a luncheon that explained all the details, the passion, the reasoning. It was the ultimate Logo Presentation, and the citizens of Reno who never had a chance to attend--certainly missed out.
So let's go through some of these SUPER GREAT questions/comments that have been surfacing in Reno's great design school, Facebook University, where people go to hone their art and graphic design skills so they can fit in with the Teslas, the Apples and all the other innovative Joneses that are so far ahead I am wondering if Texas wants a second shot at the bid.
It looks like a cattle brand. We don't need no stinkin' cattle brand. We ain't no cow town!
Well when you put it like that! See the image above. All great logos can be turned into cattle brands. The term branding came from cattle branding--it is how a rancher could distinguish his cattle from the neighbor's cattle. Just like when you go to a store and you want to grab your favorite brand, you look for the tag, the label, that signature button. It's usually not super obvious, just tucked inside the collar; but God, you get a sense of pride when you have your favorite brand rubbing up against your body all day. The Reno BRAND is subtle and simple--the way a good brand should be. It works on a subconscious level, tucked into a corner, supporting and identifying whatever wall, sign, shirt, store or project it is attached to. Your psyche spots it as you walk by, and you smile. You're not sure why, but there is something inviting about that building, that event, that business. You want to go in, something is beckoning you! That is why it looks like a cattle brand!
It's too simple.
Again, look above. The beauty of a simple logo is that it can evolve and function with more complex concepts. Have a white wall? Use the black version of the logo. Have a black wall, use the white version. Want to call it Christmas in Reno--try it in Red and Green*. I'm sure you can recall a few variations of the Nike and Coca-Cola logos. Successful marketing operations rarely go back to the drawing board completely; they just make variations on the theme. Why? We don't want you to have to rebuild a psychological impression every time the seasons, the dimensions of a billboard or the Facebook timeline cover requirements change. By utilizing a simple logo, other concepts can be built around it. Yes, it is simple. Awesome!
It looks like my 7 year old made it.
Your 7 year old should probably go into graphic design immediately.
It's so old I think I've seen this before--when I was a baby.
Hey--no one asked you your age, but since you volunteered--yes, great designers pull from historic elements of a business (or city) to give a timeless appeal to a logo. The logo is a throwback to the original Reno Arch. No one is looking to rewrite Reno's history; the creators understand that Reno's history is part of its greatness. But they also get that Reno's future can be even greater.
Stop? It's a stop sign!!?! OMG!!!!!! PANIC.
An octagon is a respectable shape, and I don't think STOP has it trademarked. It's up for grabs, people! What does an octagon mean to you? Why do you associate that with a STOP sign? And why is that a bad thing in your mind? I just LOVE the psychology behind a good logo! A great logo WILL make you STOP and think, question, evolve. It might even make you want to STOP and stay in Reno for the night, the week--hell, maybe forever. But if you just can't handle the idea of more people stopping in Reno, consider a higher meaning of the octagon which deals with: Regeneration; Totality; Infinity; Rebirth; Transition. Huh. That sounds oddly appropriate.
Why do we need this. The old one is perfectly fine.
I didn't even realize we had an old logo until this discussion came up. Then I saw the old logo and was reminded, "OMG that thing?! WE HAVE A LOGO AND IT IS SO 1997." I'm not going to bash it (much) because the previous logo was designed by committee and through intense government regulations. It fits all the requirements of the Facebook community, and well--that kind of explains it, doesn't it? To stay relevant to my clients I have to update their websites every month. And then we have to do whole website overhauls every year--just to keep up with technology. As businesses grow and they realize that their original image is no longer relevant--we have to also change their logo and branding. Reno is in an exciting place of transition and innovative growth. It's time for all of Reno to not only consider a new logo, but also a new wardrobe, a new career, a new place to dine, a new habit, a new route to work. If you're still comfortable with the old logo, it may be time for some deep spiritual introspection--what else have you been putting up with for the last 15 years? An abusive relationship, a horrible boss, an extra 40 pounds? Rebrand yourself. Tell the people that are bringing you down to STOP; you're getting a new logo, a new look. Hopefully the Facebook Community will be on board with the new you; I know I will!
*provided that is allowed under the confines of the branding guide.
Vote Asian Noodles for Best Vietnamese
Vote Lakeridge Cleaners for best dry cleaners
Julie's Sign Shoppe For Best Local Non-Casino Business
VOTE CLARK REAL ESTATE FOR BEST LOCAL PLACE TO WORK
Vote Patty's Tours Best Day Trip
La Cucina For Best Business Lunch
Johnny's Ristorante Italiano For Best Italian
Vote Tel-Com for Best Kept Secret
Vote The Gandolfo Team for Best Real Estate Agent
Vote Willey Brothers Firearms Best Place to Buy Firearms
Sierra Skin Institute For Best Doctor
Vote Silver Bullet Gun Works for best place for a first date!
CHRISTINE INK FOR BEST CREATIVE WRITER
Deltchev Gymnastics For Best Gym
Creative World For Best Place to Take the Kids
VOTE SHELBY'S BOOK SHOPPE FOR BEST BOOKSTORE!
Vote Protect Your Hunt for Best Weekend Activity!
A Poetic Body For Best Visual Artist
Vote Uncle Vinny's PIzza Best Pizza Parlor
Vote Tropical Carpet & Tile Cleaning for best house cleaning service!
PACIFIC ENERGY ALTERNATIVES FOR MOST ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS COMPANY
RENO SMOKE SHOP FOR BEST HEAD SHOP
Vote Happy Happy Joy Joy Best Toy Store
Vote Antique Angel Wedding Chapel for Best Wedding Reception Site
Vote Zeff Pediatric Dentistry Best Dentist
Vote Nails by Ava for Best Nail Technician
dfaltmann for Best New Business
Vote On Command for Best Pet Boarding, Best Doggy Daycare, and Best Pet Groomer
Lahontan Audubon Society For Best Place to Introduce Kids to Nature
Bye Bye Body Pain For Best Pilates Instructor
Fire Horse For Best Muralist
NV AUTO BODY SPARKS FOR BEST PLACE TO GET A CAR REPAIRED
Vote Tahoe Public Art for best special event at Lake Tahoe!
Email forwarding is a tool we use for:
We often set up emails for special purposes like ORDERS. Here's an example:
orders@waking girl.com forwards to >>
the owner@personal email.com
Then, we learn that the accountant also wants to be notified of any orders, so we add:
orders@waking girl.com forwards to >>
the owner@personal email.com AND
And then we want to run some tests, so we add the web designer:
orders@waking girl.com forwards to >>
the owner@personal email.com AND
accountant@personal email.com AND
web designer@personal email.com
We can continue with this list as needed. When tests are completed, we can remove the web designer from the forwarding chain. Or, if a new accountant is hired, the accountant's email address can be replaced.
Email forwarding is an excellent way to work with an organization that has turnover (non-profits, charities, events, etc.). We can easily change out the email forwarder without affecting all of the systems that have been built into the website over time.
What are the problems with email forwarding?
Have further questions or want help with email forwarding?
Are you feeling neglected by your web designer? Feeling like you have to send 5 emails before you get a response? Panic setting in? Please take a look at these helpful tips that will give more insight to the world behind the computer screen and how to snap your fingers and get your web designer's attention--every time.
1) If your web designer is awesome, he/she receives at least 50-200 emails a day. These aren't annoying subscription emails; these are emails that need to be read, handled and responded to. Put concise instructions and a deadline in your subject line. Example: Add new events to Parade.com before July 4
2) Do not use the subject line "website."
3) Avoid small talk in the opening lines. Pretend your web designer will only read the first sentence. Make it count.
4) Praise your web designer with every new request! Tell your web designer that their hard work IS working.
We got 5 new clients today from our website! We want to add 3 fields to our contact form to process new clients faster. So excited this is working so well!!"
See how it sounds when you don't praise?
Why isn't the phone number field in our contact form? That should have been in there from the beginning. Now we have 5 clients with no phone number. We better add Birth date and Country fields, too.
5) Keep emails to ONE or TWO requests. Web designers want to feel productive. If they can handle a task in 5-10 minutes, they'll jump on it. Long lists of requests should be reserved for new projects or scheduled updates.
6) Put content directly into the email instead of attaching documents. If your web designer has to download and open a program just to read your update it will fall to the bottom of the to-do list.
7) If the budget and pricing has not been pre-arranged, include what you're willing to pay for the work. This will give the web designer an immediate incentive and save on the back and forth of negotiations. Example: I can pay $75 for this update.
8) Web designers love your audience and want to please. Use real deadlines like: Website will be shown at Conference on June 17; need updates completed by June 16.
9) Always offer to pay in advance. Web designers will often under-quote a project not realizing the work involved. To feed the family they may let your project drop to the bottom of the list and turn to the pre-paid clients. Clients who pre-pay allow the web designer to focus JUST on them!
10) Don't be picky until it counts. Web designers work with MANY customers; they focus on the emergency projects first. If your website hasn't launched yet because you can't decide between Lato and Roboto fonts, you are not a top priority. The top priority is the guy who is processing $15k+ on his website every month and the credit card processing company just went down, or the gal who is hosting a big event tomorrow and is doing a last-minute Facebook campaign to drive ticket sales. When your website is highly trafficked and bringing in sales, you can be picky!
11) Give 5 star reviews! If your experience is less than 5 stars, tell them gently and give them an opportunity to improve!
12) Always preface with: I'm not sure if I'm asking this the right way but... Web designers get bombarded with questions that do not make technical sense. It is really hard to answer an incorrect question if the client isn't willing to be educated. When a client confesses their lack of computer knowledge, it opens the door for education and will get you lots of free services. Web designers like being experts! And they like to help!! Know-it-alls put web designers in a corner, and their simple requests turn into challenging accusations.
13) Edit the text for us! Instead of describing the proof reading edits, just go ahead and make them.
How to do it:
Go to the page that you want to edit.
Copy the text.
Paste the text into an email.
Edit the text.
Change subject line to: Please replace text on ABOUT YOU page with text below.
The steps above will make this a 5 minute job instead of a 50 minute brain-numbing English 101 exercise.
14) Ask how your web designer prefers to receive large or mass amounts of files. Waking Girl despises Dropbox, and instead offers an easy upload widget on their website.
15) Give your web designer creative license! A web designer is an artist; they will pour energy and time into your project if it is their artistic work and something they can proudly show in their portfolio!