Think Tank

See What’s New in Constant Contact

April 27th, 2016 by hutdogs

CTCTFreeTrialiconWe like Constant Contact for email marketing because they are always improving their tools to make email marketing easier and more productive.  Here are a few features they have recently updated:

  1. Merge Lists.  If you have a lot of lists in your account, you can now easily merge them. For example, if you import your lists monthly and put them in monthly list folders (Jan. sales, Feb. Sales), you could now merge them all into one list for example, 2015 sales.
  2. Create Images. Editing images has always been a great feature in Constant Contact but now you can actually create an image from scratch with their artwork tool. They offer 4 different image sizes: Logo, Header, Article image and Hero (a large image).
  3. Import with vCard. They offer several ways to import your email list including uploading from a file, importing from email clients, Gmail, Salesforce, Quickbooks, Outlook and now from Apple address book.
  4. Create an email from a PDF. The PDF importer allows you to quickly create an email from a PDF without having to convert it or recreate it! This is a huge time saver!

If you are not using Constant Contact but want to try it out, sign up for a free trial at

5 Ways to Prevent Desperation from Setting Your Expectations

April 21st, 2016 by hutdogs

UnicornCrossingBuilding a business takes time. It takes persistence. It takes patience. It takes intestinal fortitude (guts). It involves risk. It involves dusting yourself off and standing back up over and over again. Owning a business is not the same has having a job. There are no guaranteed weekly paychecks or benefit packages. Income is only generated when a profitable sale occurs. Not just a sale, but a profitable one.

The old saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day,’ is true.  In our “instant” society, we may often think that a magic button exists or that a ‘one-and-done’ campaign will be the golden ticket to success. Some erroneously think that by sending one email or that posting once on social media will generate instant income and success. Some think by simply having a web site that the masses will magically flock to it. These expectations are not realistic and are pipe-dreams at best.

Marketing takes time, effort and experience. Trial and error needs to happen. Some promotions will work better than others. Some products will sell better than others. Some delivery methods will perform better than others. Some pricing strategies will work better.  Time is a big part of the recipe as marketing is a work in progress.

Strong and consistent marketing efforts need to happen all the time, not just when you are in a down cycle or in a sea of desperation.  Ironically, some businesses tend to scale back their marketing efforts when times are good, which could eventually precipitate a down cycle. Worse yet, some think a magic bullet can be pulled from thin air when times are rugged. The reality is; instant fixes don’t happen. Short-changing or neglecting your marketing will short-change your business.

Setting expectations:

  1. Forget the idea/dream of a one-and-done magic-bullet marketing campaign. Finding a herd of unicorns is more likely to happen than having a one-shot-wonder fix. Set up a long-term (6 months to 1 year) action plan that includes; email marketing, traditional marketing (print, local advertising, sales events, lunches etc.), social media marketing and event marketing (trade shows, networking events, open houses/customer appreciation events and other face-to-face activities).
  2. Honestly assess what you are selling and to whom you are targeting. Is there truly a demand for your product or service? Who is most likely to need or want these? What is the anticipated sales cycle? What is the likelihood of repeat sales or referrals?
  3. Develop an annual marketing campaign calendar.  This includes setting a budget for marketing. Know when your up and down cycles occur during the year and planning accordingly.
  4. Review your efforts and adjust.  Look at your email open rate and click through reports. Review your Facebook ad performance reports as well as your page insights and see what is working and what needs adjusting. Track your list growth for both email marketing and social media. Monitor your traditional marketing efforts as well.
  5. Persist. Know that it will take time to build your lists. Know that it will take time to grow your business. Know that it will take a budget/investment to create an effective marketing system. And know that Rome is still under construction.