It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Back to school time! Oh, I hate filling out all the paperwork (again) for three kids, and the constant stream of $20 out the door for this and that. But man…. It’s nice to get everyone back to school, including the husband who teaches elementary school.
There’s a lot of pros as to why I keep my office in my home, but one major con. During the Summer, my office seems to be overrun with teenagers asking for a ride somewhere, asking if they can do something or eat a certain thing, or a million other questions they could ask their Dad, who is off for the Summer, I might add!.
I’ve had a home business since they were born so they’ve been sort of trained from birth to look to make sure I’m not on the phone before running through the house screaming or coming into my office to ask something. But, there are times when everyone backslides. Usually right around mid-July.
I lose my cool and then remember that it’s my own fault for not making them stick to the home office rules. Yes, we have rules. Heck, I even have rules for myself, including what time I’ll be here, and what I can and cannot do in my office. I could get lost forever down a rabbit hole if I allowed myself to Google random things! But the big rule for the kids is to stay out during business hours except for three times during the day which are my two breaks and my lunch. I usually eat with whatever kid is eating at the moment.
Does it work? Mostly, but they still try to come to me about everything random. I just had to remind myself that no matter what they ask, it's okay to tell them to come back later if they just want to talk or they can take it to Dad. This is hard because it’s usually faster for me to just answer their question than sending them to Dad. But well… they have to learn that I’m working, right? (laughing) It’s a vicious cycle we repeat every Summer, but hey… each Summer the “break in” time has lessened. Small wins.
If you have a home office, how do YOU deal with interruptions?
I recently gave a presentation about effective email at CalTech. A staff member told me he had written an email to an inventor and gotten no reply. A few days later, he wrote again. Still no reply. He was starting to feel peeved at the lack of response. Then the inventor's assistant called him and explained that the inventor was on the Space Shuttle and was unable to respond to emails. He was not on the planet. That's what I call a good excuse for not responding to an email. However, many of us write emails to people who are on the planet, and still get no reply. How can we generate more responses to our emails?
Writing emails that get a response requires three steps. The reader must:
· Open the email.
· Read the email.
· Respond to the email
Write an Email that the Receiver will OPEN
People open emails because they want to open them, or because they fear the consequences of not opening them. We need to show them what's in it for them if we expect them to give us their time. The primary way to do this is by writing an effective subject line. The subject line should indicate the purpose of the email, address the reader's needs, or state the main point. It should be straightforward and relevant to the message. It should never be left blank.
Use the Three Ps
In our writing trainings, we talk about the Three Ps: purpose, person, and point. Before every communication, you need to know why you are writing, whom you are writing to, and what you want to say. Analyzing these factors will help you construct a good subject line.
Here is how the Three Ps work in subject lines. If your purpose is to request action, write "Action Requested" in the subject line; if you do not do so, the reader might not read far enough into the email to realize that something is being asked of him. You can also address the "hot buttons" of your reader. For example, if your staff member had an uncomfortable conversation with a client and needs to speak to you, she could write the subject line, "Need to speak with you," and you might not respond immediately. However, if she writes, "Client retention issue: Need to talk to you," you will probably pick up the phone immediately, because she touched on a hot button for you. If you choose not to focus on purpose and person, you can simply state the main point: "Tax return enclosed," "Lunch 5/4 12:30 at Trattoria confirmed." Using the Three Ps provides a useful framework for thinking about what to put in a subject line.
Be Straightforward and Relevant
To make it even more likely that your subject line will trigger an "open that email" response in your reader, be straightforward and relevant. The subject line is not the place to be cute. Mailchimp analyzed three million emails and found that the most descriptive subject lines were most likely to be opened. You can ask a provocative question, such as "Do you still need help with your mother's care?" or make a promise, such as "You will start saving money as soon as you return the signed documents to us." But whatever you write should pertain directly to the content of the message.
Write an Email that the Receiver will READ
Think about your own experience. If you open an email and see that it is short, gets straight to the point, and makes clear what you are expected to do in response, how do you feel about reading it? Conversely, if you open an email and see that it is several screens long, contains multiple long blocks of text, and has no bullets or subheads to guide you through, how do you respond? Do you rush to read that long email, or are you more likely to put it aside for a quiet moment - which may never come - when you have time to study it?
Get to the Point
Put your main point up front, where people will see it even if they are reading on their phones. Remember that readers may not read to the end. Do you read to the end of every email? Some people do, but in my experience of training hundreds of individuals, many do not. To get your point across, state it early.
Use Plain Language
As George Orwell said, "Never use a long word when a short one will do." Your reader may be highly educated and capable of reading difficult text - but she is also busy and distracted. Why set up barriers between you and your reader by using language that is unnecessarily formal or complex? Do not write, "We are in receipt of your letter dated March 1, 2016." You have received the letter. Do not write, "I am endeavoring to ascertain the date of the accident." There are many ways to reword that sentence. To make your reader more likely to read through your email, use short, familiar words whenever possible.
Keep It Short
Boomerang analyzed 5.3 million emails to see which ones generated a response. They found that the best length for an email is from 100 to 125 words. This may be bad news for you if you are professional with a legal obligation to disclose scads of information to your clients. Here is the solution: Put the main, "drop-dead" points first, with bullets. Then include the information that covers you legally, but consider putting that information into an attachment. At the least, put it into a clearly demarcated part of the email, so the reader will be able to quickly scan and see the most relevant points, and then choose whether to read the details.
Write an Email that the Receiver will RESPOND TO
Create a Clear Call to Action.
Often, when readers do not respond to an email, it is because they do not clearly understand what you expect from them. To you, the required response might be obvious; however, you cannot assume that it is obvious to your readers. Let them know exactly what response you are looking for. Here are some possible calls to action:
Call Write Mail Send
Reply Review Sign Approve
Make a Request
People respond to requests. You can be indirect, polite, or straightforward. Just make a request. For example, if you write, "We need to receive the documents by Friday," it may be obvious to you that they should send the documents. However, until you write, "Could you please send them by then?" you have not made the request.
Set a Deadline.
Deadlines create urgency and focus. Every request should have a deadline. You are more likely to get a result if you tell your reader when you need to hear from him.
In short, writing emails that get a response is a three-step process. First, write a subject line that shows the reader why he or she should open the email. Next, write a short, clear message that gets to the point. Third, insert a call to action that tells the reader what you want him to do, and by when. In the end, readers will only do what they want to do, and if they have 300 emails in front of them, there is no guarantee that yours will be the lucky one that is opened. However, by following these principles, you raise the odds in your favor.
Elizabeth Danziger is the president of Worktalk Communications Consulting. She enables people to achieve their goals by connecting with their readers. Through writing trainings, webinars, and individual coaching, Danziger teaches her clients to write clearly, correctly, and persuasively. She offers workshops on business writing, effective email, and on getting people to respond to emails. You can reach her at (310) 396-8303 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Schedule your company's email effectiveness presentation today. Learn more at http://www.worktalk.com.
8/1/2016 2nd Quarter Payroll Taxes Due
8/1/2016 Deposit FUTA tax if more than $500 was paid through June 30th
8/1/2016 Employer's Deposit Federal Unemployment (FUTA)
8/1/2016 Employers File Annual Return for Employee Benefits Plan 5500
8/1/2016 Employers File Annual Return for Employee Benefits Plan 5500-EZ
8/1/2016 Employers File request for Extension filing Employee Benefits Plan Return
8/1/2016 2nd Quarter Federal Excise Tax Return & Payment Voucher
8/15/2016 Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month
9/1/201 Time for businesses to consider setting up retirement plans
9/15/2016 Employers Make Monthly Payroll tax deposit on the 15th of each month
9/15/2016 Partnership Returns Due- FINAL DEADLINE
9/15/2016 Corporate Returns Due- FINAL DEADLINE
9/15/2016 S Corporate Returns Due- FINAL DEADLINE
9/15/2016 Estate & Trusts Returns - Final Deadline; Bankruptcy fillings use the same form
9/15/2016 Individuals, Farmers & Fishermen Pay 3rd Quarter Estimated Tax Payment
9/15/2016 Corporations - 3rd Quarter Estimate Tax payment Due
9/15/2016 Estates & Trusts 3rd Estimated Tax Payment
9/15/2016 Deadline for Corporations and Partnerships to fund SEP-IRAs for previous year.
9/30/2016 Last day to establish SIMPLE plans for current year
9/30/2016 Time for businesses to consider setting up retirement plans
QuickBooks offers a lot of great reports built into the program. However, sometimes the reports they have don’t quite work for what you need to see. Luckily the program allows a lot of customization in their reports. To create a custom report it’s often easiest to start with something similar to what you want to see. Once you have a report open select “Customize Report” at the top menu bar on the reports screen. From here there are four tabs to customize.
Display Tab: This tab allows you to choose the date range of the report, select if you want to see the report in cash or accrual, and customize some of the columns on the report.
Filters: This tab allows you to filter out specific information. There are a lot of options for filtering that allow you to see a variety of information.
Header/Footer: This tab allows you to make changes to the report title, subtitle and other header and footer information.
Fonts/Numbers: This tab allows you to change your font type, size and color and also allows you to change how your numbers are shown.
Once you’ve created the custom report, if it’s something you want to be able to view easily in the future you can memorize it. Toward the middle of the report menu select “Memorize”. This will save the custom report in your reports menu for future use.
The Importance of Autoresponders
I’m sure you have heard the phrase “the money is in your list”, or something similar. The reason behind this saying is that with your email list you can target customers that you know are interested in your product or service because they opted in to be on your list. A successful relationship with your customers or clients and the building of your list is heightened with the power of autoresponders.
Internet marketing is made easier when you use autoresponders. They can fulfill tasks that would otherwise be difficult to complete and also be molded to fit in with your marketing plan. For example, you may decide that as part of your online marketing efforts you would like to offer a 5-part e-course on your niche area. Without an autoresponder this would be very difficult, effectively and professionally anyway. However, with an autoresponder in your marketing arsenal, you are able to achieve this by automatically sending out your e-course spread over a number of days, keeping your customers interested and eager for the next part of the course. You are then able to target these customers with your future products and services, and will have hopefully built up the trust with your customer and convey to them that you are an expert in your field.
Once your autoresponder has been setup, you can rest assured that your emails and follow-up emails are running on autopilot. This saves you a lot of time which can be spent on your other marketing work.
The number of uses for autoresponders are vast. You can even set up an autoresponder to deal with invoicing if needed. There are many creative ways that you can use your autoresponder to build customer relations and make more sales.
If you are using Instagram for marketing you are probably tired of trying to remember when to post your image. Most online services that say they will post your image at the time you schedule it basically send you a reminder when it's time to post. There is one service that actually does post for you. Postso.com will post your image at whatever time you have scheduled. In fact, they will post to Twitter and even Pinterest at your scheduled time.
There is one catch. When you land on the Postso page you will not see that it can post to Instagram. It only shows you Pinterest and Twitter. You have to actually call in and ask for the Instagram service! Using this service allows you to utilize Instagram to its fullest for marketing. Start creating those branded images and reaching new audiences.
The OffAssist newsletter is made possible by the the coding talents of Next Level Digital Solutions.
Much of the advice in this newsletter is based upon the research, professional and personal experiences of the authors. If the reader has any questions concerning any material or procedure mentioned, the publisher and authors strongly suggest seeking the advice of a qualified CPA or other professional.