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  • 01/23/2017 7:47 PM | Lisa Pisano (Administrator)

    Have you seen one of these lately?



    Chances are you probably have one – just like it - close by. I bet you empty it regularly.  I am sure you look through its contents as you walk away from it, every day. Then you separate out what is important, what is interesting and what is obviously destined straight for the recycling container. And every once in a while – it prompts you to do something.


    Yep! You guessed it. It’s a mailbox.  And we are talking DIRECT MAIL!


    According to a recent Epsilon Research Study, direct mail remains the No. 1 choice of consumers for receiving information. The same study found that social media and blogs are considered the least trust worthy channels by consumers. These findings highlight a challenge that small businesses face today: how to effectively balance marketing strategies both online and offline.


    With 50% of consumers reporting that they pay more attention to postal mail than e-mail, both forms of marketing are essential for reaching your audience. The misconception that direct mail is “outdated” has been shattered, but simply employing direct mail is not enough to guarantee results.


    Some of you may not know that I worked in one of the largest direct mail design agencies when I first graduated from college. I designed those “balance transfer” offers from large banks and credit card companies you are so quick to shred. I earned a great starting salary and felt very glamorous in my office in the John Hancock building in Chicago --- sadly I only lasted 6 months. Yes – it was awful. Here’s what I learned.


    To implement direct mail successfully, here are 10 things that you should consider.

    1. Determine your budget.   Whether you have $500 or $50,000, a budget will determine what you can (and cannot) do. The USPS has recently introduced many innovative cost-saving solutions.

    2. Define your goals.  What are YOU looking to accomplish? Do you want to build your database? Do you want more customers to buy a certain product?

    3. Develop clear, concise content. If you are in the service industry, focus on a particular problem your customer may be facing and offer a solution.

    4. Use a clean list that is less then 6 months old.  A bad mailing list can kill a very clever, expensive campaign. The best list is one that you create yourself from existing clients and prospects.

    5. Consider an interesting dimensional mailing.  Anything that is an unusual shape, size, thickness draws attention. They score the highest open rate.

    6. Don’t be afraid of a design with color and varying text sizes.  An attractive design that draws attention to key points is VERY powerful.

    7. Include an offer they can’t resist. A strong offer, and a direct, clear call to action is key. Example: “Stop by our store for your free goodie bag”!

    8. Include an expiration date on your offer.  A sense of urgency prompts action.

    9. Social media icons may be included –  and can be tied to your offer for example: “Like us on Facebook to get a free sample”.

    10. Repetition will keep you in the forefront.   Be in front of your prospects minimally 4x a year.


    Remember—a Direct Mail campaign can consist of an e-mail, a postcard, a letter, a brochure, a product catalog, a gift… and may be a combination of all these.   


    To learn more click TwoByTwo Design’s Communication Packages.


    Aparna Mulchandani

    Two by Two

    201-684-1515

    www.twobytwodesign.com

  • 01/06/2017 11:16 AM | Anonymous member

    Everyone knows the great feeling of being right about a fact, an expectation or the best way to accomplish a task.  We learn from our achievements happily.  Learning from our mistakes can be just as valuable and therefore, joyful - on some level.  I learned this in a fun way over the holidays.  I gloomily predicted traffic and long delays on my family's Christmas road trip.  When we hit almost none, I realized that I am rarely so happy to be so wrong. 


    Shift this idea to thinking about your divorce.  If you are certain that every possible settlement leads to mutual financial ruin, wouldn't it be great to be wrong? If your answer is 

    a resounding "yes! I want to be wrong" then ask yourself these next questions:


    1.      Why is your money currently invested the way that it is?

    2.      On a monthly basis, what savings are you creating in retirement and non-retirement funds? 

    3.      How much equity is held in your home?

    4.      What are you doing to preserve or improve the net value of your home?

    5.      How are you going to pay for your children's education and is your co-parent agreeing with you now about that? 

    6.      Is your disability insurance benefit enough to cover your typical monthly expenses?

    7.      If you were to unexpectedly die, do you have enough life insurance to house, feed, educate and protect your children until adulthood?

    8.      Are you and your spouse maximizing your earning potential? 

    9.      What tax advice have you gotten to help you understand your options for dividing assets, arranging alimony and child support? 

    10.  Who is giving you advice about how to adapt your retirement plans based upon the upcoming change in your asset base and income available for savings?

    Give yourself one point for each question that you can answer without saying "I have no idea." 


    Then grade yourself:

    1-3 points:   You can do better than this but you need the right team of advisors to help you raise your score. 

    4-7 points:   Nice work so far.  Be sure to keep asking these questions and updating your answers until you get the deal done. Consult with new advisors to up your score as soon as possible.

    8-10 points:   Your financial savvy will help you during the economic transition of a divorce.  Now is a good time to follow up with your advisors and to update your personal financial knowledge. 


    Divorce creates new financial challenges.  The right lawyer works with a team of financial advisors to prove to you that if you are only expecting the worst possible outcome, you might soon be – happily – completely wrong. 


  • 12/17/2016 5:17 PM | Deleted user

    By Donna Gould, Open Heart Creative


    What if one word had the power to help you connect more deeply with your customers? To see your products in a new light? Or to guide you on your path to something bigger and better?

     

    I’m not sure where I first came across the idea of choosing a word to guide my year. But as the calendar turns to January, I find that doing so has now replaced my old habit of making New Year’s resolutions.

     

    Think about how powerful words are:

    • They can make us look witty, sincere, generous, and trustworthy.
    • They make us sound foolish, cynical, shallow, and mean.
    • They can make us call in love and shudder with fear.
    • They can bore us to tears and keep us up half the night.

     If words can do all that, then a single word certainly has the power help us keep our intentions in sight as the year unfolds. My word grounds me in the story of my business and my life. And as I joyfully address the concerns of clients and offer support to friends and family, it gently reminds me to make my wishes and well being a priority.


    Ali Edwards, creator of One Little Word® says her words “have each become a part of my life in one way or another. They’ve helped me to breathe deeper, to see clearer, and to grow.”


    In addition to Ali’s year-long workshop, you can find other online “how to’s” for choosing and engaging with your word (check out Jamie Ridler and Susannah Conway’s websites.) But there is really no “right” way to go about it. Sometimes my word will simply come out of left field. Other years I struggle between two or three. Or four.


    Once you invite your word into your life, you’ll discover the magic it holds. It will serve as your “true north”, the constant you will keep returning to, long after you’ve forgotten the resolutions you made this month.

     

    Is there one word that will fuel your passion? Or nudge you to follow where it leads?

     

    What’s that magic word?

  • 11/05/2016 3:49 PM | Deleted user

    By Donna Gould, Open Heart Creative

     

    It’s that time of year!

     

    When we get caught up in the mad whirl of shopping, decorating, candle lighting, and celebrating with friends, colleagues, and family. When we get ready to say “buh-bye!” to the old and ring in the new.

     

    When work can feel like it’s all that stands between us and some holiday cheer.

     

    What better time to rekindle a little joy– in your business?

     

    As entrepreneurs or business owners, we love what we do or we wouldn’t be doing it. But our joy ebbs and flows and is often overshadowed by the demands of – well – working.

     

    Before you start planning your goals for 2017, it’s a good idea to be in a positive frame of mind. To pause, step back, and reconnect with the passion and possibility that drove you to start your business in the first place.

     

    Scroll through your website. Read your marketing materials. Revisit your mission statement. Why does it matter? Because your vision, your values – your delight – are the reasons your clients or customers choose you.

     

    So “gift” yourself a little time to reflect and recharge.


    Put aside the marketing plan and money worries, the vendor issues and client complaints, and ask yourself what you love most about your work. How can you translate your answer into words – and use those words in your marketing content?


    If you’ve been in business for a while, think back to how you felt when you opened your first box of business cards. Launched your website. Got your first client. Let these feelings re-energize your interactions with clients and prospects.


    If your business is relatively new, tap in to the excitement that propelled you to take your professional leap. Take advantage of networking opportunities and speaking gigs where you can share your enthusiasm with others.


    Make a date with a business mentor and have a heart-to-heart about any issues or challenges you’re facing. You’ll return to your desk with a fresh perspective, a boost in confidence, and a renewed commitment to planning a bigger and brighter New Year!
  • 11/01/2016 11:52 AM | Deleted user

     

    For the past few October’s my husband and I canned applesauce. As we were putting the jars into the boiling water – the final step, it got me to thinking how the process we just went through applied to marketing.

    How It Applies to Marketing

    1. Timing is key. Apples are at their farm market peak in late September to early October. In marketing, you need to know when the best time to market your produce or service is. If you have a seasonal product, you can market in the off-season, but usually at a discount. Your buyers may not be looking for your products in the off-season, so it makes your marketing job harder.
    2. Choosing the apples. We chose our apples from the farm market. We do this because we believe the product was fresh and ready for canning. In marketing, making sure the product or service you are working with is ready for market helps increase a positive experience for customers.
    3. Instructions and tools. We had to get our instructions and tools in place, organized, and cleaned before beginning. By putting our tools out first, we knew what we needed and how we could best set up our workstation to be efficient and effective. Just like in marketing. By creating repeatable processes and using tools to be efficient, you can complete the process even if you haven’t done it for a year.
    4. Shelf life. When you can anything, the final step is to wait for the little “pop” noise the lid makes when the top is sealed. This ensures the product will have a long shelf life. When it comes to marketing, there is a waiting game sometimes. You have to wait until the market is ready for your product or service. You may have to wait for sales to take off or for something to go viral.
    5. Consumption. We are eager to try our new product, so we often save one jar for dinner the weekend we make it. For your customers, product or service consumption may be quick or happen over a period of months; it takes us about a year to eat all the applesauce we make. Sometimes we forget we made it until one of us puts a jar in the fridge. Ensure your marketing campaign keeps bringing your customers back to buy or consume your offerings.

    Keep these five steps in mind the next time you need to create a marketing campaign.

  • 10/18/2016 7:05 AM | Deleted user

    By Donna Gould, Open Heart Creative

     

    With Thanksgiving just a month away, a blog post about giving thanks may seem a bit too obvious. But this isn’t about going around the holiday table and sharing something you’re grateful for.

     

    It’s a reminder about the incredible power of the Thank-You Note.

     

    In day-to-day life, the words “thank you” can have a big impact on how you’re perceived. Saying them demonstrates respect, sincerity, and genuine appreciation. Forgetting to say them implies you’re someone who takes things for granted or, worse, is simply rude.

     

    In business, it’s amazing how far a simple “thank you” can go. Research shows that customers spend more, employees accomplish more, and vendors are more likely to pay on time if they’re thanked regularly.

     

    There are countless ways to express gratitude in the workplace, but the simplest – and often the most impactful – is to send a thank-you card.

     

    I don’t mean an email or text. Though appreciated, these tend to become routine. I’m talking about a handwritten note. Slipped into an envelope that you put a stamp on. And drop into a mailbox (remember those?)

     

    Think about how you feel when you get a note or card from someone you do business with. For me, it’s something special that I don’t soon forget – even when it comes from a company, not an individual.

     

    Last month I made my first online purchase from a California-based accessories manufacturer. My new wallet arrived beautifully packaged (and I’m loving it!), but what struck me most was the lovely thank-you note they had tucked inside.

     

    Is it a not-so-subtle marketing ploy? Of course it is! But the card made it personal. And as we know, being human is often key to a company's success. The extra few moments you spend purchasing and writing a card will show you truly value and appreciate whomever you are thanking – whether it’s a vendor, manager, or co-worker. And your clients will remember it when deciding if they’ll be return customers.

     

    As Gary Vaynerchuk, author of The Thank You Economy, says, “Only the companies that can figure out how to mind their manners in a very old-fashioned way – and do it authentically – are going to have a prayer of competing.”

     

    It's often the small gestures that can mean the most. Something to keep in mind at Thanksgiving – and all year long.

  • 09/18/2016 1:45 PM | Deleted user

    By Donna Gould, Open Heart Creative


    We hear buzzwords like personal branding and brand storytelling tossed around a lot. We’re told how important it is to find our brand voice and to be authentic.

     

    But what the heck does this really mean?

     

    In the spirit of Halloween, let’s say it’s about stepping out from behind the mask. Authenticity is having the courage to be who you really are – not some idealized, airbrushed version – and the confidence to know you will attract customers who appreciate that.

     

    A strong brand comes from a place of truth about what a business authentically represents. As a content strategist and brand storyteller, one of the first things I often do with clients is help them understand that it’s okay to say what they think. To tap into the emotional center – the beating heart – of their business and talk about their passion for what they do.

     

    In her book Everybody Writes, Ann Handley says, “At its heart, a compelling brand story is a kind of gift that gives your audience a way to connect with you as one person to another.” Dropping your mask – even just a little – can go a long way towards deepening these connections.

     

    Here are three things to keep in mind if you are looking to build a truly personal brand.

     

    1. Be human. For me, this is the most important aspect of brand storytelling. In order for your customers to care about your story – and keep turning the pages, so to speak – you must be open, vulnerable, and ready to connect with the vulnerability of your audience. This takes work – and for many of us, it takes tremendous guts. You have to be willing to show up as a real person, not as a marketer or a business owner.

     

    2. Keep it Real. Being “real” doesn’t mean sharing your entire life story or pouring your heart out on your website or blog. It does mean strengthening your connection to what you and others value about you. Get clear about the kind of relationship you want to have with your customers, and how you want them to feel after working with you or using your product or service. Give yourself permission to relate to your clients as living, breathing human beings – not a demographic.

     

    3. Get Personal. A brand “voice” is basically the sense of personality or culture that’s projected in a company’s communications. If your marketing tends to focus only on selling product attributes or touting your expertise, think about how you can inject more of your personality into emails, blog posts, or sales copy. Tell a personal anecdote to illustrate a point. Share a problem and how you resolved it, or a mistake you made and what you learned from it. When you own your story and share it without apology, not only will you differentiate yourself from everyone else in the marketplace – you’ll inspire your customers and win their loyalty.

     

    Care to share your personal branding tips? Comment below.

     

     

     

  • 08/22/2016 11:09 AM | Anonymous member

    By Amanda S. Trigg   ast@lmllawyers.com

    A friend's Facebook status recently said: "Teaching the 8 year old about Pokémon Go is grounds for divorce, right?" As a divorce lawyer, was I supposed to "like" this?  Answering it seemed out of the question. I have no idea whether, in the state where she lives, the unilateral decision to introduce a child to the maddening phenomenon of hunting and catching cyber creatures all day long, everywhere she goes, would be "extreme cruelty" or "irreconcilable differences" or any other legal reason for ending a marriage.   It was an occupational hazard, though, to seriously consider the what my answer would be.   After turning it over in my head for a few days, I decided that the answer was definitely, “possibly, yes!”

    Before you ask, my teenager is playing Pokémon Go great enthusiasm and I admit that I will take a detour or make a special stop so he can catch them.   So this is not about whether I approve or disapprove of Pokémon Go (or whether I actually enjoying this regression to his early childhood love of Pikachu, which included a Pokémon themed birthday party).   The underlying question is whether my friend should have been consulted by her husband before he decided to enlighten their child about the game. 

    We usually say that all major decisions involving a child's wellbeing must be jointly decided if parents have joint legal custody.   Until the 21st century, that meant medical decisions, educational plans, religious upbringing and other big ticket items that would have long-term effects upon a child.   Discipline could be within the scope and if so, permission should be as well.  Pokémon Go raises questions of a child's independence, if you let him go out hunting in your neighborhood on foot or on bike.   For some parents, that is unthinkable or unprecedented due to real concern about unsupervised children’s safety.  Changing that standard should, in my opinion, be the subject of a conversation between the parents.  

    Playing Pokémon Go requires use of a cell phone with internet access and locator services.  When to give a child access to portable technology definitely constitutes a major decision;  just ask any divorced parent who has fought over when the kids get their own cell phones.   Other parents struggle over what video games to let their children play based upon the manufacturer’s ratings.  Pokémon Go is the perfect storm because it indicates a child’s presence on the internet, including his/her location so that “nearby” game features are revealed.  What could more obviously impact a child’s long-term well-being in 2016?   Again, therefore, letting a child be out in cyberspace as a gamer should be discussed between parents. 

    Connecting the dots, I believe that a deliberate refusal to communicate about children can be part of a pattern of behavior which could lead to the conclusion that the adults have irreconcilable differences, at least.  For that reason, one parent’s decision to let a child play a game like Pokémon Go could, combined with other behavior, possibly be grounds for divorce.  The friend who originally posted this, by the way, knows I am quoting her in  this blog. 

    Now that I’ve settled this in my mind, I want to know whether a Pokémon, once caught, is marital property and whether once trained they have higher value for purposes of dividing that property in a divorce.   But right now, it’s time to go hunt for Pokémon.  


    This post first appeared on www.letstalkaboutdivorce.com, the blog for the Family Law Department of Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich & Trigg, LLC.  If you or someone you know has questions about marriage, family law or divorce, please contact me. 201-488-1161 or ast@lmllawyers.com  I will always  treat BCPWN referrals with great care.   

  • 08/16/2016 3:18 PM | Anonymous

    By Mirel Goldstein


    The connection between creativity and fear is not a new discussion, but it is always an interesting one.

     

    Recently a client talked about his fears of failure if he actualizes his long-time dream of being a professional podcaster. We came to understand that he wasn't only afraid  of having his work unappreciated or unsuccessful, but was equally concerned about relinquishing a long-held fantasy of one day "wowing" everyone with a bigger and better production than they could ever expect from him, without having to go through the grind of working his way up step by step towards success. It was a wish to show his parents and the world, once and for all, that he could do it, whatever "it" was.  

     

    Another client found herself deeply depressed when the financial dream she had scripted her life around had finally come to fruition; it was an anti-climactic disappointment that left her feeling empty and dead.

     

    Others struggle with grand ideas that they never seem to be able to turn into something real. One client explains it like this: "I'm afraid of the disconnect between the way I imagine things in my head and how it will turn out in real life". Trying to actualize our ideas means accepting the gap between what we can imagine in our minds and how much of this can actually be conveyed externally. It's a hard loss to stomach, for some.

     

    I enjoyed this talk by Psychoanalyst and Editor Dana Birksted-Breen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1Y3C6EBXbQ&feature=youtu.be

     about unconscious anxieties that get evoked by the creative process.

     

    In particular, she touches on anxieties like: 

    •  Fear of stealing ideas from someone else
    • Fear of being envied or punished
    •  Fear of not having "enough" in oneself
    • Terror that things will never come together
    • Worry that once something is published, nothing else will ever be produced
    • Concerns about how good and big one's production is
    • Worries about needing to placate others who may be envious or angry, showing them we aren't displacing them by quoting them or including them somehow.

     

    In my experience, fear of being revealed as a fraud or impostor seems to be a way that many writers/creatives describe some of what is at the heart of their anxieties about creating. Many other psychologists, researchers, and writers who are not psychoanalysts have also touched on these very same kinds of anxieties, often in different words and different ways. One of my favorite conversations is this one, in which Brene Brown interviews Liz Gilbert, author of Big Magic: Creative Magic Beyond Fear:

     

    http://brenebrown.com/2013/12/17/daring-interview-series-meet-elizabeth-gilbert/

     

     

    Liz Gilbert names some of the fears that get in the way of her creativity (as well as her tricks for working past these fears):

     

    Fear of criticism, fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear that I am washed up, fear that I am and have always been a fraud, fear that I will get a nasty review in The New York Times…

     

    Sound familiar?

     

    We each have our own idiosyncratic fears, secrets, vulnerabilities, and places of shame, and sometimes the fear and shame gets the best of us, while at other times creativity trumps. And sometimes, when we're lucky, we can manage to pull them together and use the creative process in the service of mastery of our fears and vulnerabilities. But the only way to get there is to try, and if not now, when?


    To read more insights about creativity, see my post Frontier States and the Creative Process


    More insights about relationships issues, anxiety, and the therapy process are available at http://goldsteintherapy.com/blog-html/

  • 08/16/2016 10:19 AM | Lisa Pisano (Administrator)

    In my work as Content Director for BCPWN communications, and as a marketing consultant on other business-to-business companies, I’ve come across a multitude of articles on productivity.  It’s a hot topic and one that has peaked my interest over the years, especially as an entrepreneur who essentially runs a virtual public relations agency, working from my home.


    I know there are many of you in a similar work situation.


    Perhaps you have remote independent contractors or interns that help to support your business endeavors.  Or have to keep track of your time.  What kinds of tools and applications do you use to keep yourself organized and keep people communicating effectively?


    I’ll admit, it’s taken me a little while to learn what works best for my work style and lifestyle but I’m happy with a few tools in my toolbox that have helped to keep my business dealings and me productive, practical and organized.  I’ll share a few of them with you here today:


    - Google for Business:  From my business email account that is anchored in Gmail to my Gmail calendar, I’ve been very pleased with how user-friendly Google for Business has been. The best part for me is how EASY it is to search for emails, documents and messages.


    - Dropbox: Stop what you’re doing now and sign up for Dropbox. Spring for the $99 all access pass.  It’s worth it and your business will thank you. I use it not only for sharing large files with clients and media but as a backup for iPhone photos, as a central sharing location for the community club of which I’m President and as a backup to my most important personal and business files. It’s all in the cloud.


    - Wunderlist: Admittedly, I use this iPhone app more for personal reasons but I do have a few folders for clients and blog posts. It’s essentially a centralized location for a series of lists.  And is pretty fantastic.


    - BestParking:  For those of you who find yourself traveling to clients in cities with expensive parking (NYC), this is a must-have app to find the best prices possible nearest to your final destination. I never drive into the city without first plugging in where I’m headed to in BestParking.


    What apps or programs keep you and your business on track? Comment below.


    Lisa Pisano

    President, Groupe a la Mode LLC

    lisa@groupealamode.com

                                                                                                            
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