Email attachment tip: Do as I say, not as I do

Tuesday, Feb. 4th 2014

If you’ve ever received an email that’s missing the promised attachment, you know how annoying that can be. Now imagine, it’s your client or prospectSubject: PDF attached who receives that email minus the attachment. Your email may arrive at a time when they’re ready to download and act on your attachment. If it’s not there, you risk losing whatever momentum you had with them.

Here’s a tip that will help you cut your rate of attachments gone AWOL:

Make adding your attachments the first step in your email composition process.

I’m writing this blog post to remind myself of this important tip. Because I recently sent an email minus the essential attachment.

Please do as I say, not as I do.

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Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner
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Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in email | 2 Comments »

Looks matter when you present numbers, says “Painting with Numbers” author

Thursday, Jan. 30th 2014

Painting with Numbers by Randall BoltenNumbers are critical when financial professionals communicate with the clients and colleagues. However, poorly crafted communications with numbers can sabotage you. Randall Bolten’s Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You will improve your effectiveness.

I was particularly taken with Bolten’s chapter called “Looks Matter.”

As Bolten says, your use of white space, font styles, and other visual cues can make a big difference in readers’ understanding. These cues tell your readers “how they should group your information and what’s not important, and where you want them to focus first.

Here are some chart and spreadsheet tips from Bolten’s “Looks Matter” chapter.

Tip 1: “Put the important numbers where they’re easy for the reader to find, which is usually around the edges.C Think about it. The eye will seek the “bottom line” when looking at financial statements.

Tip 2: Use white space to set off the main elements. This could mean setting off groups of rows, such as revenues or cost of sales. It might also mean breaking 12 months of data into clusters of three months.

Tip 3: Show time periods across the top of the report. This takes advantage of the English-speaking world’s habit of reading from left to right. Plus, the numbers in an income statement then fall into a mathematically logical order of revenues, expenses, and profits.

Tip 4: Use font and cell formatting choices wisely. That means highlighting the most important numbers using boldface, colored or italicized text, borders or cell shading. Don’t go overboard with special effects. As Bolten says, “Not only is an overdressed report hard to understand, but the impact of the visual effects that do have a valid purpose becomes diluted because the reader can’t tell which effects are meaningful and which aren’t.”

 Useful book for numbers people

I’m more of a word person than a numbers person. If I ever had to dig more deeply into spreadsheets, I’d study Bolten’s book closely for its tips on designing and using Microsoft Excel to create reader-friendly output. Bolten’s philosophy of “painting with numbers” lines up nicely with my approach to working with words.

Disclosures: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. If you click on the Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I only link to books in which I find some value for my blog’s readers.

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Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in writing | 2 Comments »

Investment commentary – How do you keep it fresh?

Tuesday, Jan. 28th 2014

How do you keep your investment commentary fresh quarter after quarter?grapes

This is especially challenging for writers who cover a narrowly defined investment strategy and lack the freedom to go off on tangents. I’m thinking about writers of institutional investment performance commentaries rather than writers of high-net-worth quarterly client letters.

Solution 1. Express an opinion

“I try to put strong opinions in my commentaries.” This was the solution offered by a participant in a writing workshop I delivered to the Stamford CFA Society. I like her approach.

Your clients will have seen the quarter thoroughly rehashed by the time your commentary reaches them. Your opinions can make you stand out from the crowd, reminding them of why they hired you. Opinions can also address the question of “what makes you unique and why will it persist?” This question was highlighted by John P. Meier of Strategic Investment Solutions in the GIPS Standards Annual conference session on manager selection.

You may worry, “What if I express a strong opinion that eventually turns out to be wrong?” Here’s my take on that:

  1. Your clients may not remember.
  2. It’s okay in moderation, assuming your opinion is well thought out and consistent with your investment philosophy and process.

Solution 2. Highlight what’s new in an old theme

Many managers repeat the same themes quarter after quarter. After, some issues in investment markets—such as the prospect for an end to the Fed’s easy-money policies or the search for yield in a low-interest-rate environment—play out over a long time. Don’t abandon a significant theme solely for the sake of novelty.

However, you can tilt your treatment of a theme to new developments. For example, say that investor demand has bid up asset classes that formerly offered higher yields at attractive valuations. It’s worth mentioning that change and the market forces that drove it.

Your suggestions?

I’m curious about how you handle this challenge. Please share your strategy.

Need hands-on help with your commentary?

I can write your commentary based on interviews with your investment professionals or based on attribution analysis and other materials provided by you. I also edit commentary you’ve written to make it more compelling and reader-friendly.

If your budget is limited, hire me to evaluate your newsletter and suggest improvements that you can implement yourself.

Image courtesy of foto76 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in client communication | 3 Comments »

Tackling Vitriol in Your Digital Spaces

Thursday, Jan. 23rd 2014

Blane Warrene has contributed a great deal to the spread of social media among financial advisors—both in terms of educating advisors and developing technology for social media archiving. In this guest post, he suggests techniques for handling nasty comments on social media websites where you have some control over what gets posted.

Tackling Vitriol in Your Digital Spaces

By Blane Warrene

Unpleasant, angry, and hateful speech doesn’t get the attention it deserves in discussions of social media. If you plan ahead, you can handle these Blane Warrene situations better. This preparation will make your reaction much more thoughtful when you tackle vitriol in your digital spaces. When I say “digital spaces,” I include blogs and the online communities of Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. I’m not including communities that you create specifically to discuss your business services.

Start by understanding human nature. Many years of tradition and training often suppress emotional reactions well, in most cases, ensuring civility prevails. But not always. It is in our nature to be passionate, angry, protective and aggressive—otherwise we would not be human. To our credit, most of us have also learned to manage these powerful emotions. Remember the difficulty of taming emotions helps with your preparation.

Here are some key steps you can take:

  1. Declare your policy candidly—be clear with your participants about what you do and don’t allow as conversation in your digital space.
  2. Use moderation tools—groups (and all community-based tools) offer moderating capabilities, both manual and automated. Turn them on and make use of them to allow you efficient, effective management of that engagement.
  3. Be fair in your moderation—offer a second-chance edit on posts or comments you consider inappropriate. Only block or remove group members who do not follow the rules after a second chance.
  4. Network with your frequent participants—the ultimate goal of being social in business is developing new relationships. You may find individuals who are interested in contributing more regularly, aiding in moderation, and promoting your group.
  5. Follow your own rules!—you are not exempt from following the policies you put in place. Otherwise you will lose credibility and your group will devolve into something less meaningful.

Policy Suggestions for Your Digital Space

What belongs in your policy declaration? I suggest making the following points to your group’s participants:

  1. No self-serving veiled commercials—let your space be a reprieve from commercialism, where participants can learn and help one another. Remind participants they can of course take techniques they learn in your space and use them in their commercial pursuits.
  2. No posts that lead to paywalls or data collection—if someone is giving away a white paper – truly give it away in your group, otherwise don’t post it. Remember #1.
  3. Focus—ask your participants to focus their comments on the purpose of your space. Focus helps the conversation provide more value. You’ll make this easier for them if you clearly define the purpose for your space.
  4. Show respect—remind your participants to act respectfully. There is rarely unanimous agreement on all topics. If you foster civil discussion, the debates and disagreements should also remain civil.

Remember that one of the goals for your online space is to foster conversation and idea-sharing. These rules will help you to achieve this goal. A focused, engaged digital space can be very rewarding for you and your participants.

Handling Complaints about You or Your Company

Complaints aren’t the same as vitriol. It is important to fine-tune your customer service radar when considering what might seem like negative engagement. If a closer look shows that unfiltered anger stems from dissatisfaction with the service or products delivered by you or your organization, then you need to respond with procedures that you’ve developed in advance.

Acknowledge those comments or posts and then take them offline—not to hide them, but to ensure they are addressed appropriately. If your interaction allows you to respond to the original negativity with a follow-up post, then do so.

When You Can’t Control Posts or Comments

Most of us participate in digital spaces that we don’t manage. What should you do if you’re disturbed by comments or post in a group over which you exercise no control? The answer depends on the goals of your participation in those spaces.

Often saying nothing is the best approach because you’re not fueling a fire.

If you must respond, remember that civility rules the day. The passions that drive us, when governed, can feed creativity and thoughtful response. This can have a positive impact on difficult discussions.

Your polite response means that members of your network will consider you to be fair and balanced, even when they disagree with you. This gives you a voice in important conversations. Reasonable disagreement can lead to meaningful outcomes in many cases.

When faced with pure anger and hateful speech, there are not many ways to facilitate a positive outcome in an online discussion. The engagement can be taken offline where cooler heads can prevail. Or, when faced with unapologetic trolls, you should refrain from engaging with the provocateurs. An online stream of tit for tat will not benefit anyone.

Finally, always consider our own history of failures when you feel the urge to strike online at an individual or organization that has erred publicly. Taking the higher road is never a sign of weakness.

______________________________
Blane Warrene writes and speaks on the balance of marketing, privacy and digital communications in financial services. He co-founded Arkovi and can be found at @blano on Twitter.

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Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in social media | 4 Comments »

Asking reporters to send questions in advance

Tuesday, Jan. 21st 2014

Working with reporters is easier and more productive when you understand how they work. You can ask reporters to send you questions prior to anquestion mark interview. However, please don’t insist they do so, unless you want to sacrifice your opportunities.

Many reporters refuse to send questions in advance. They fear it’ll destroy your spontaneity. Plus, they don’t want to limit the scope of their interviews to those questions.

If a reporter declines to provide questions, you can still ask him or her to expand briefly on the scope of an interview request before you agree to speak.

After all, a topic of “401(k) plans” is too broad to allow you to do any preparation, or even to assess whether you’re a good fit for the reporter’s topic. If you’re an expert on, say, using your 401(k) for real estate investment, it’s fair to ask if that’s on the reporter’s agenda. You might also ask, “Are there statistics or background information that I can find for you?”

If you have tips that help you work effectively with reporters, please share them.

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Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in marketing | No Comments »

Happy Twitter birthday to me! A reminder to try new things

Friday, Jan. 17th 2014

@SusanWeiner Twitter birthdayI’m astonished to find myself celebrating my fifth birthday on Twitter. On the one hand, it feels like just yesterday that I joined Twitter. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to imagine life without Twitter.

I joined Twitter reluctantly. It seemed as if all of my writer friends were buzzing about it, but I didn’t want to add another form of social media to my busy life.

At first, Twitter struck me as stupid. There were so many short, disconnected snippets of information. And the volume was overwhelming.

However, eventually I figured out that I didn’t need to read every tweet. I started using HootSuite to filter tweets. I also started interacting with Twitter users, as I described in “Why I like some tweets more than others–and the lessons for you.”

I had a “Twitter moment” when I spoke at the Financial Planning Association’s FPA Experience conference about writing more effective emails. Thanks to my Twitter friends, my session was one of the more heavily tweeted sessions, despite its being scheduled early on the first day of the conference. Even better, I met people who felt as if they knew me, even though they’d only seen me on Twitter. For an introvert like me, it’s an enormous relief when people come up to me instead of my needing to tackle them.

My experience with Twitter reminds me that I need to keep trying new things. Just because something is unfamiliar doesn’t mean it’s bad.

If you’re new to Twitter

If you’re not yet on Twitter—or you’re still trying to figure it out—you may find these posts helpful:

Figure out YOUR Twitter birthday

You can find out your Twitter birthday by entering you Twitter name on the TWbirthday website.

 

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Your call-to-action choice makes a difference

Thursday, Jan. 16th 2014

One change made a big, bad difference in newsletter sign-ups from my website. Read what depressed my subscription numbers so you can avoid a similar fate.

Swapping newsletter for book boxcall to action box

A call-to-action (CTA) box with appealing text and an image boosts clicks by visitors to your website. That’s why my website redesign in 2012 added a CTA in the upper right corner. It invited you to receive a free report, Investment Writing Top Tips, when you subscribe to my e-newsletter.

I swapped that newsletter box for a book box when I launched Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts that Attract Clients. It wasn’t a carefully thought-out move. Rather, I did it in a panic when I realized as I launched my book that it was hard to find the book on my website. Book call-to-action boxSelling the book was more important than adding newsletter subscribers. Plus, I figured I’d pick up subscribers from the call-to-action in my blog post footer.

Newsletter surprise

I was mildly surprised when my newsletter subscriptions didn’t spike during the month-long virtual book tour, which involved sharing guest posts on 26 blogs during August. Looking back I see that my weekly signups fell to an average of 11. But at the time I was too busy to notice. When I discovered this later, it didn’t square with my idea that the book tour would spur more visits to my website, which would spur more sign-ups.

The big surprise came after my virtual book tour ended. In the week ended Friday, September 13,  I only added 6 new subscribers. Yikes! I can’t remember the last time prior to 2013 when my weekly new subscriber count fell below 10. That’s a scary number.

Trying for a comeback

To make my appeal for new subscribers more prominent in the week of September 16, I added an image of Investment Writing Top Tips to my blog footer. Until then, the footer consisted only of text.

Since then, my new subscriber counts have stayed in the double digits for all but three weeks. They even rose to 32/week when I published a guest post on MarketingProfs. I imagine they might be higher with a CTA box featuring the free e-book that folks receive when they subscribe. As I edit this post in December 2013, I’m averaging 14 new sign-ups/week.

I’m considering adding a second call-to-action box to my website. However, my web guy tells me that the right-hand column of my website is already too crowded. If he says that again, I’ll reconsider a low-key pop-up box that would slide across the bottom of my website and be easy to close. Yes, I know people hate pop-ups but they seem to work.

Or perhaps it’s time to swap my book CTA with the newsletter CTA now that the initial rush of book sales has ended.

Your thoughts?

If you’ve ever grappled with a call-to-action challenge, I’d like to hear from you—especially if you have advice for my newsletter subscriber predicament.

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Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in marketing | 8 Comments »

Blogging Q&A with Jim Blankenship

Tuesday, Jan. 14th 2014

I invited Jim Blankenship of Blankenship Financial Planning in New Berlin, Ill., to participate in a Q&A about his blog because I was struck by the depth of material on his blog. When I tweeted a question to him about his blog post explaining the file-and-suspend strategy for Social Security, he quickly tweeted back with a link to a blog post answering my question. I imagine it’s powerful to have this kind of information easily accessible.

This is the second in a series of Q&As with advisors who blog. The first was with Michael Kitces of Nerd’s Eye View. If there are other advisors whom you’d like to hear from, please let me know.

 

Q. When did you start your blog, Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row—and how did you choose your focus?Jim Blankenship

A. When I started in April 2004, I was sending a paper newsletter to my clients (first quarterly, then monthly), so I just took the newsletter articles and blogged them.  In late 2008, I started specifically writing articles for the blog.

I focused first on tax laws and IRAs because my clients had specific questions about these areas.  A bit later, I added the Social Security focus. I have focused on these three areas since then, but always writing for my audience’s interests.  When they send me questions outside of these three areas, I write about them as well.  Sterling Raskie joined the firm in 2012, and one of his primary areas of focus is insurance, so he’s been writing about that quite a lot.

 

Q. How has your blog brought you new business or improved your existing client relationships? Please explain and quantify, if possible.

A. It’s rare these days to have a new client come to me who has not read either my blog or syndicated articles from it. My articles are syndicated on sites including Forbes.com, TheStreet.com, Morningstar Advisor, and FiGuide. The great benefit is that folks who’ve read my writings already understand much about how I work, who I am, and my areas of expertise. In addition, from having read my articles, there is a level of trust already built into the initial conversation.

This has helped with long-distance relationships, which have increased significantly over the past two to three years.  We now routinely have clients that we exclusively work with long-distance. They account for something like 40% of new clients. In contrast, prior to starting the blog, long-distance clients only came about when someone local moved away.

 

Q. What blogging techniques or topics have most helped your business?

A. The blog’s niche focus on taxes, retirement plans, and Social Security has reinforced the fact that we’re experts in these areas.

Keeping to a schedule has also helped. I started with a haphazard approach to blogging, without any schedule.  I soon recognized that I needed to be more consistent in my blogging efforts, so I set the goal of writing three articles per week, one on each of my focus areas.  Sticking with this schedule has helped me to manage the time to blog, as well as letting my readers expect a level of activity.  As with all things that take time, you will make time for the things that you put a priority on, and I have (since late 2008) always put a priority on keeping that schedule.

I maintain lists of topics to write about, spurred by reader questions, real-life client situations, and articles I’ve read, so I never run out of things to write about.  Sometimes the mix of topics differs week-to-week, but the primary focus areas are still represented in my writing.

 

Q. What are three of your favorite—or most effective—blog posts? Provide the titles, URLs and a comment about why you included them.

A. I don’t really have any favorites.  Here are three of my articles that have had the most hits.

Charitable Contributions From Your IRA – 2012 and Beyond — this explains how the elimination of the Qualified Charitable Contribution option changes the tax effect of making contributions to charities from your IRA. Of course, the tax law was extended, so this now applies to 2014 now—until the law is extended again.

The File and Suspend Tactic for Social Security Benefits — as the title suggests, this is a straightforward explanation of the tactic.

A Little-Known Social Security Spousal Benefit Option — this explains the option where a higher-wage-base spouse files a restricted application to receive half of his or her spouse’s benefit at Full Retirement Age, but delays filing for his or her own benefit to age 70.  Not many folks understand this one, so I’ve written several articles to help explain it. I still get questions every week.

 

Q.   What’s your best tip for advisors who blog?

A. Just do it.  It’s not rocket science.  Find your focus, be consistent, and put a priority on writing, even if it’s once a week or once a month.  Over time, this will build up to a significant body of work that potential clients can refer to, and it will make a difference in how you interact with people.

In addition, use all of the tools available — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest — to promote your blog posts.  Explore using various plug-ins to your blog to push out your articles, such as RSS, email subscription, and automatic tweeting.  These free tools are worth their electronic weight in gold, in terms of promotion and reaching out.  Answer questions via each tool, and strike up conversations.

Track your traffic – you can’t know if you’re getting through if you don’t track it.  I use a combination of Google Analytics, WordPress statistics, and Bing webmaster tools to track traffic.

Always respond to comments on your blog posts in a timely fashion — this keeps the conversation going beyond your initial writings.  It’s no different from returning phone calls.

Note: This post was updated on Jan. 14, 2014, to correct a typo.

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7 steps toward picking your self-published financial book’s formats and formatter

Thursday, Jan. 9th 2014
book cover: Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients

I learned some lessons as I struggled through getting my book formatted.

When you self publish your book, you get more control over the final product. The downside? You must sink time and money into the production process, starting with choosing your book’s formats and formatter. I learned firsthand about this when I published Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients.

So many format choices

Do you want to publish electronically, produce a physical product, or do both?

Electronic formats include PDFs; formatting for the most popular e-readers, the Kindle and the Nook; and many other less widely used formats. As for physical producers, you can choose between paperback and hardcover as well as print-on-demand vs. printing and buying a batch of books before you sell them. The choices can feel overwhelming.

Step 1. Ask readers for their preferences

In the beginning, I thought I’d publish Financial Blogging as an e-book. After all, they’re the wave of the future. I figured I’m a dinosaur in my preference for printed books.

However, I dutifully surveyed my social media connections after a savvy friend suggested I ask whether people read “how to” books as e-books, PDFs, or printed books. I was surprised by the enthusiasm expressed for printed books.

Step 2. Consider your book’s demands

The nature of your book may influence its format. For example, an interactive book won’t work if it’s printed on paper.

In my case, my book included multi-page worksheets and special layouts that work best on 81/2” x 11″ paper. They wouldn’t display well on e-reader screens. This is what drove my decision to produce two versions of my book—PDF and print-on-demand paperback—formatted with 81/2” x 11″ pages.

Step 3. Decide on DIY vs. outsourcing

It’s possible to do it yourself, especially if you’re creating a text-only mini e-book PDF. My annual Investment Writing Top Tips compilation in PDF format is a DIY job, except for the professionally designed cover.

E-books are more complicated. I had my virtual assistant convert Investment Writing Top Tips 2012 to the Kindle and Nook formats following the instructions the the string of blog posts by Guido Henkel that starts with “Take pride in your ebook formatting.” It took her roughly 9.5 hours to complete.

You can also try automated formatting, following the instructions on Kindle Direct Publishing or Nook Press for the Nook. However, you may run into format glitches. Plus, the quality of your layout in the e-book will be limited to the quality of the layout and coding in your original.

I’m not an expert on the DIY approach, so please do research before you pursue this approach.

If you’re a busy financial professional, you should outsource. Fighting with formatting wastes your valuable time.

Step 4. Ask for recommendations

I’m a big believer in the power of recommendations. However, I suggest that you get specific in your recommendation request. Tell your colleagues the formats you’re targeting and whether your book involves any challenges, such as the inclusion of images or other complex formatting.

Step 5. Investigate pricing and turnaround times

Pricing varies greatly for formatting your book. The ultimate price will depend on factors including:

  • Your page count
  • Special formatting requirements
  • The need to convert from one format to another—for example, my designer prefers to format for print publication before he converts to an e-book format
  • How many edits or other changes you make after you submit your manuscript for formatting
  • Timing—if you have a rush job, your designer may charge a premium price
  • Your book cover requirements—prices vary greatly depending on your source of cover images
  • Nature of services included—the designer I initially hired included consulting on book page size, pricing, and other marketing services in her flat price, but most designers don’t offer such services or charge a la carte.

You may find it hard to compare designers’ price estimates for your book. In my experience, few designers quote flat fees that include everything you want. Instead, they may say $x per page and $y per hour for services such as inserting images or designing graphics.

In “The Real Costs of Self-Publishing a Book,” Miral Sattar says you can pay $150-$3,500 for cover design and from $0-$2,500+ for print and e-book formatting.

By the way, if you pick a book formatter who won’t design your book’s cover, you can pick up tips from “Your Book Cover is Like a Highway Billboard” by Scott Lorenz.

Step 6. Ask for references and samples

If I had been more diligent about Step 6, perhaps I could have avoided my book designer fiasco in which my designer quit partway through the design process because she wasn’t up to formatting mind maps and sidebars.

You should look at samples of work your designer has done in your genre and with formatting challenges such as photos and graphs. Do you like how they look? Also, ask for references so you can learn about the designer’s responsiveness and other characteristics.

However, even good references are no guarantee. After all, nobody gives out names of people who disliked his or her work. In my case, my initial mistake stemmed from relying on the assessment of a consultant who’d had great experiences with the designer who let me down.

What’s the worst that can happen?

I had a book fiasco. My book designer quit without warning, making it impossible for me to launch my book at my May 2013 flurry of speaking engagements. That was a big disappointment.

However, with the help of my book consultant, I hired Jerry Dorris of AuthorSupport.com to design my book’s cover and interior. He did an amazing job. His design is far superior to that of my original designer. My book came out three months later than planned, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

Step 7. Take the big leap

Once you complete Steps 1 to 6, it’s time to hire your designer and move closer to sharing your book with the world. But you have more work to do.

In a future post, I’ll write about managing the book design process.

 

If you’d like to see the book design I ended up with, check out Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients. You can peek inside the book on Amazon to see the great work Jerry did on the interior design.

 

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Copyright 2014 by Susan B. Weiner
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Email lessons adapted from Hootsuite’s CEO

Tuesday, Jan. 7th 2014

Email overload bothers everybody, but some people go too far in their efforts to manage their inboxes. For example, there are the “5 Hacks to Combat Email Overload” proposed by Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite. However, you can adapt some of his suggestions. Holmes’ suggestions are to:

  • Limit your emails to three sentences in length
  • Use the Sanebox service to filter out less important emails
  • Shift conversations to social media
  • Use autoresponders
  • Use Gmail’s Canned Responses feature

Here’s my take on Holmes’ suggestions:

1. Keep your emails short

If you focus each email on only one topic, it’ll be easy to keep it short. But don’t make it so short—as in limited to three sentences—that you omit essential information. If you use email tips I’ve shared in other posts, your emails will be easy to skim and absorb.

2. Filter your emails using some system

It helps to have a system that filters out less important emails. It doesn’t have to be Sanebox, which I’ve never tried.

For example, I use rules in Microsoft Outlook to make many notifications go directly into folders. I target some of those folders for review daily or weekly. Others are simply for potential reference.

If you use Gmail, you can take advantage of its filtering emails in three categories: primary, social, and promotions.

3. Use the appropriate medium

Holmes likes social media. That works sometimes. However, sometimes a phone call, a face-to-face meeting or even email is even better. It depends on your target’s preference and the nature of your message.

4. Make it easy for people to find the information they need

Holmes uses an autoresponder to connect the senders of incoming emails to the right individuals or departments. I wonder if he’d need that if the contact information was easy to find on the firm’s website. This use of an autoresponder sounds cold and impersonal. However, it would be helpful to provide this information as part of a standard response to relevant inbox messages.

5. Create standard responses

Holmes uses the Canned Responses feature of Gmail. Other email programs have similar features, or you can create standard messages in your word-processing software and then copy-paste them into your emails.

 

How do YOU manage your inbox clutter? I’m always interested in your tips.

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Posted by Susan Weiner, CFA | in email | No Comments »