Friday, July 21, 2017

Don’t Overlook Your Email Intro Lines

Those first 2 to 3 lines of copy in your emails can be just as crucial as your subject line.

If you’re like most organizations, every penny of your marketing budget has to show ROI these days. Chances are you and your “wordsmithing” team spends hours agonizing over the length, tone and design of your email subject lines. And you should. Numerous studies show subject lines really do influence whether or not your email gets read. According to Convince& Convert, 33 percent of email recipients open email based on subject line alone and nearly 70 percent report email as spam based solely on the subject line.
But, don’t forget about the intro lines that follow your subject line. Doing so is like revving your car’s engine in the driveway, but forgetting to disengage the emergency brake. In other words, lots of wasted gas and energy just to be spinning your wheels.

Okay. Your killer subject line got the reader’s attending. Now what?

Intro lines are those all-important two or three lines of text that users see immediately after opening your email.

Intro lines are even more important for mobile users since subject lines are typically cut off for mobile users. According to Incentivibe, which specializes in shared giveaways for business, marketers should use the intro line to hammer home the offer and the benefit in 65 to 85 words. That’s long enough to convey your message and call to action, but not too long to lose your recipients’ interest.

Getting ‘inactives’ re-engaged
Like most B2B marketers, you probably have tons of inactive subscribers on your lists and keeping those folks on your list is certainly not helping your deliverability stats. Some of you are probably trying to re-engage your “inactives” from time to time, but sending a once-a-year “we want you back” email does little good, according to digital marketing company, Silverpop. Experts say that’s waiting way too long.

It’s better to identify your inactive subscribers and cull them out after a few months of inactivity. But instead of deep-sixing them entirely, put them on a separate “activation track” in which you try to engage them by sending different types of content than you’d send your main list.

EXAMPLE: Ask your inactive subscribers to update their preferences in one email and send a survey of white paper in the next. Also try to find out why they’re inactive. Are there any patterns? See if your inactives fall into a particular demographic group, geographic group or industry category. See if they tend to come from one or two activation sources. Those are red flags that savvy B2B marketers will remedy ASAP.

There’s no substitute for a snappy, relevant subject line, but no matter how clever your marketing team is, if they don’t follow it up with a relevant intro line, you’re like a baseball team that keeps getting runners in scoring position, but can’t them home to home plate where it counts on the scoreboard. With 82 percent of marketers planning to increase their investment in mobile this year (Source: American Marketing Association and Aquent poll of U.S. marketing professionals), can you afford email copy that’s not optimized for your on-the-go clients and prospects?

The Free Resources section of our website has more on this topic.

Stay smart and don’t be an email tease. If you grabbed your audience with a snappy subject line, make sure you deliver on what you promised. Doing so consistently will earn you loyal followers and advocates for years to come. But being an email tease will get you on the “opt out” list faster than you can say CAN SPAM.

By the way, if you think email is going the way of Kodak, Blockbuster Video and yellow cabs, think again. You are 6 times more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet (Source: Campaign Monitor) and email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter (Source: McKinsey). Hmmmm.

TAGS:  email intro lines, better email engagement


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Avoiding Credibility Killers and Our Other Top Posts of 2017

It’s hard to believe the year is half over and it certainly hasn’t been dull. While we’re all looking for more certainty out of Washington, the Fed, the markets and the global arena, there are some things you can control on the thought leadership, practice development front and personal productivity fronts. Here’s what’s been keeping you and your peers up at night.

Top Posts of 2017
Online Marketing B2Beat (HB Publishing & Marketing)
1. Avoid These Written and Spoken Credibility Killers
2. I Jumped Out of a Plane (and other calculated risks)

When it comes to avoiding credibility killers (our most popular post so far this year), John F Morrow, Partner at Morrow & Associates, LLC said, “You really gave me something to think about with ‘So...’ - I know I'm guilty of that and I fear my 17 year-old son picked it up from me.”

“Spot on post,” noted Thomas Greve, Business Development Manager at EMS World. Another pet peeve, said Greve is "’lets' nip it in the butt,’ instead of ‘nip it in the bud’ as in a plant reference. Drives me nuts!”

Improving client communication and relevancy
In this age of information overload and clutter, it seems anything related to clear and better communication has been resonating with our readers and followers. Avoiding Written and Spoken Credibility Killers was by far our most-read and most frequently shared post of 2017. But you and your peers also expressed concern about mastering the writing process, getting your client communications better organized and creating more relevant content about advanced planning services.
Understanding NextGen and learning to unplug

Understanding the younger generation’s money priorities and financial advisor expectations is clearly challenging for many of your and your colleagues. While everyone’s trying to keep up with the 24/7 news cycle and the always-connected work life, you told us loud and clear that you’re very interested in simplifying your lives, learning to unplug from technology, taking strategic breaks and taking calculated risks even while on vacation.
Thanks so much for reading and sharing your comments. Let us know if there are any other topics you’d like us to cover. Keep reading. Never stop learning. Never stop challenging yourself. And for Chrissake, put down your device once in a while. Just experience the world with your own eyes and ears. If you see something remarkable, just preserve it in your memory. You don’t need to take a selfie or post it ad nauseam to all your social media platforms.

TAGS:  Top posts of 2017, Avoiding credibility killers, making the writing process simpler, advanced wealth planning topics


Monday, July 03, 2017

Embrace Your Entrepreneurial Freedom(s) on Independence Day

It’s the eve of Independence Day in the U.S.  We know most of you are secretly toiling away trying to tie up loose ends before rushing out to barbecues, boat trips and fireworks. You may be at your beach house, lake house or mountain cabin, but you’re catching up on work because you are an owner, founding partner or team leader with dozens of people depending on you.
It’s what you do.

Let me repeat. It’s what you do when you’re trying to create real wealth, not just punch a time card or brown-nose your way up the corporate ladder. It’s not a burden—it’s part of your freedom and independence.
According to author and entrepreneur coach, Dan Sullivan, there are four basic freedoms that keep successful entrepreneurs going when others would give up:
1.       Freedom of Time.
2.       Freedom of Money.
3.       Freedom of Relationship.
4.       Freedom of Purpose.

While most of the world’s wealthiest people are self-made entrepreneurs, money isn’t what motivates them to go off on their own with no guarantee they’ll be successful or even solvent. According to Sullivan, it’s freedom. Let’s take these four types of freedom one at a time:
Freedom of Time. You want to spend your working life doing what you really enjoy doing and minimize the amount of time you spend doing what you don’t enjoy—or working with people you don’t respect. You also want the freedom to spend time NOT working too. You need time to pursue other interests and have a full life.

Freedom of Money.
 According to Sullivan, you don’t want a ceiling on how much money you can make for doing a great job, for coming up with valuable new solutions or inventions. And if your efforts generate money, you don’t want anyone dictating how much of that money you can keep, argues Sullivan.

Freedom of Relationship.
 Sullivan’s point is that there are certain people you love working with—both inside and outside your business—and you want to spend more time surrounded by people you mesh with (and respect) and less time with people who don’t. Entrepreneurs have that freedom. Most other working stiffs (both blue and white collar) don’t.

Freedom of Purpose.
 This enterprise you’ve created is not just a job or a career. Sullivan argues that your enterprise is a vehicle to all sorts of things that relate to your fundamental values and ideals in life. This allows you to have a tremendous sense of purpose for being on this planet. According to Sullivan, “entrepreneurs are the greatest contributors of money, opportunity, and capability to communities all over the world, in every field of human activity.”

We all get swept up in the day-to-day minutiae and it’s easy to lose sight of your four essential freedoms. Sullivan and other experts say this is what clouds your thinking, causes you to hit barriers and encounter complexity.

Take advantage of Holiday-disrupted weeks like these to review your Four Freedoms and bring your life back into focus. Your life will get simpler and each step and decision you make will have more meaning. The U.S. may no longer be No.1 in many areas, but it’s still a much better place to live, work and build wealth than the vast majority of other countries.

What’s soccer have to do with entrepreneurial freedom?

Patriotic pride has been on full display the past several days and no better example was the U.S. vs. Ghana Men’s soccer match I attended on Saturday in East Hartford, CT. A rowdy, but well-behaved crowd of about 30,000 cheered on both sides in a tough, well-fought final tune-up for the World Cup qualifying rounds. Several thousand green and black-clad Ghanian supporters mixed in boisterously, but peacefully, with the red-white-blue home fans who chanted U-S-A throughout the stadium and in the parking lots.

Opposing players helped each other up after each hard tackle. Flopping and yellow cards were kept to a minimum. Beer-soaked spectators saluted each other after each opposing goal was scored. Scores of Yanks wearing American flags took selfies with their new Ghanian friends in traditional robes. If you’re keeping score at home, the U.S came out on top 2
-1, with “highlight reel” goals by emerging American stars Dom Dwyer and Kellyn Acosta, who each scored their first international goals and U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan saved a penalty kick. Expect both teams to surprise some folks in the 2018 World Cup.

After Saturday’s soccer match and tonight’s fireworks, I’m reviewing my Four Freedoms and thinking that maybe, just maybe, there’s still hope for the world.

Best, HB


TAGS:  4 Freedoms, Dan Sullivan, USA Men’s soccer, entrepreneurship

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Why You Need to Understand How Gen Z Differs from Millennials

They’re not just tech savvy; they’re the next wave of successful business owners

As we discussed last week, there’s no one-size-fits-all definition of the younger generation entering the workforce. While it’s tempting to use the catchall phrase “Millennials” you should be aware of an even younger and tech savvier cohort coming up the ranks. Meet Gen Z--the 70 million young Americans born after 1995—i.e. your teenage and young adult kids and grandkids who don’t even remember a time before social media.
Like it or not, you’re going to be working with both Millennials and Gen Z for the foreseeable future. You’re going to be recruiting them, marketing to them, wooing them as clients, transferring your assets to this group and possibly even working for them. You might even find yourself negotiating with their Helicopter Parents during the interview and hiring process.

If nothing else, it’s important to understand the key differences between Millennials and Generation Z because they certainly don’t think alike. Just so we’re clear, a “Millennial” is a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000. Gen Z’ers are college students, high school students, middle schoolers and below.

According to blogger George Beall, there are 8 Key Differences Between Gen Z and Millennials:

1. Gen Z is Less Focused. Today the word relevant is constantly being refined and Gen Z lives in a world of continuous updates. According to Beall, Gen Z processes information faster than other generations thanks to apps like Snapchat and Vine. Thus their attention spans might be even shorter than Millennials’. Our take: You don’t have to text and tweet to reach them, but keep your messaging short and get right to the point. On the off chance they want more info, they’ll reach back out.
2. Better Multi-Taskers. Gen Z has the stereotype of being less focused than their Millennial counterparts. They will create a document on their school computer, do research on their phone or tablet, while taking notes on a notepad, then finish in front of the TV with a laptop, while face-timing a friend. My take: As the father of a 13 year-old and 18 year-old, I can assure you this is NOT an exaggeration by Beall. But, if the work is good, who cares who, when or where they get it done.

3. Bargains. 
Beall said Millennials care more about prices than Gen Z. This is arguably because they came of age during the recession. From personal experience I would say Gen Z is a bit on the materialistic said as they are very brand conscious and know the prices of luxury cars and clothes, as well as the prices of homes in their neighborhoods, how much they’re teachers are paid and whether or not they’re in a “rich” or “hood” school district.

4. Gen Z is Full of Early Starters. Beall said many employers are predicting that more teens, between the ages of 16 and 18 will go straight into the workforce, opting out of the traditional route of higher education, and instead finishing school online, if at all. Our prediction is that there will be a renewed interest in the skilled trades—electrical, plumbing, HVAC, auto repair—especially by boys. There will also be more gap years and delayed entrance to college….not necessarily to travel (unless to be digital nomads), but to earn money working or to try their hand at a startup when the personal risks are very low at that age.

When they do decide to attend college, we also think there will be more use of income-share agreements instead of student loans to finance there ever-rising cost of tuition.

In our next post, we’ll look at four more ways that Gen Z differs from Millennials and what you can do to get along with them, leverage their talents and not get in their way.
If you’re smart, you’ll try to adapt and understand them. But if you roll your eyes and try to impose your will on Gen Z, you’ll find yourself taking a very long walk off a very short pier.  

TAGS:  Millennials vs. Gen Z, George Beall, teen entrepreneurs, young people and money

Monday, June 19, 2017

Don’t Understand Millennials and Money? Wait Until Gen Z Shows Up at Your Office

I hope you enjoyed Father’s Day yesterday and took a moment to drink something cold, grill something hot, smoke something slowly and enjoy your favorite outdoor hobby…or hammock.

As the father of 18 and 13 year-old boys who graduated last week from high school and middle school, respectively, I’ve been thinking a lot about the passage of time. It’s not only technology that distinguishes today’s younger people from previous generations; it’s how quickly they’re accelerating their transition from childhood to adulthood.

Meagan Johnson, a generational expert, speaker and author calls members of the Gen Z cohort “Linksters” because it is the first generation to be linked into technology from day one. Social, mobile and cloud storage aren’t things they had to learn….it’s been part of their DNA from the time they were in pre-school.
According to the Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), most members of Gen Z—the 70 million young Americans born after 1995--don’t remember a time before social media. As a result, the Center said, “they tend to live more of their lives online and via smartphone—interacting with friends and family and making major purchases. This could have profound implications for everything from their relationships and how they learn to virtual reality training and problem-solving,” CGK said.

While today’s teens and tweens run circles around us on the tech front, I’ve had some good laughs watching my boys try to push a lawn mower, change a tire, address an envelope properly or try to read the hands of an old fashioned analog clock. I guess it’s how my dad felt watching me butcher 2x4s on his basement table saw, weedwack my mom’s flowers in the yard, or try to paint over the fresh scratches in my junker car without first using primer or scraping off the old rust.

More to today’s young people than tech addiction

What you may not know about the always-wired generation is that they’re fiercely independent, very entrepreneurial and highly conscious of money, brands and the freedom that technology and a little bit of cash can bring.

My 18 year-old has a drone-based aerial photography business to supplement his minimum wage jobs in retail and manual labor. The other night I drove my 13 year-old to the ball field to collect his monthly check for umpiring Little League games. It was great to see he had earned several hundred dollars officiating the endless “walk-fests” known as 9-10 year-old baseball and occasionally putting an unruly coach or parent in his place.
What impressed me more was how quickly he and his peers became part of the financial system. Before we left the parking lot, my son and fellow young umps had scribbled their names on the back of their checks, snapped photos with their smartphones, tapped their mobile banking apps and whoosh….the money was instantly in their debit accounts.

On the silent ride home, my son went immediately to—the online stock exchange for footwear started by Cleveland Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert—to check out the prices of limited edition vintage sneakers. He’s been working a few deals with his virtual friends and customers from all over the U.S. and getting ready to attend a “SneakerHead” convention. That’s where he and his buds will have a booth, buy and sell several thousand dollars’ worth of high-end sneakers and apparel. More often than not he and his fellow traders will come home with a handful of “Benjamins” ($100 bills) the way our generation used to come home from the drugstore with a handful of baseball cards.

The other day, I dropped my son 13 year-old off at the post office to make a shipment across the country to a cyber pal he made in California. He and his counter-party were Facetiming each other to confirm that the other was actually at the local post office preparing to ship the sneaks they were trading. Kids in the “industry” as the call it, typically meet via Instagram. All have Pay Pal accounts and most have “trust” ratings that tell others whether they are trustworthy shippers or known scammers.
The SEC and Better Business Bureau could learn a thing or two from this generation.

When I came home from work the other day, my son was hanging out with a friend from across town….. When I asked the boy if he needed a ride home, the kid politely declined. “Is your mom or dad on the way?” I asked. “Nah,” the kid said. They’re busy at work. Uber’s picking me up.” So he whipped out his phone, tapped the Uber app and said, “Gotta go….he’s right around the corner.”

While many marketers, trade associations, educators and financial professionals are trying to figure out how to remain relevant to Millennials—the roughly 75 million Americans in their 20s and 30s--there’s another cohort coming up the ranks that is even smarter, more tech savvy and more impatient to become independent adults who have little need for conventional banks, brokerage accounts, landline phones, taxis, traditional classroom education or higher education.
Although most Gen Z’ers are still in their teens, CGK reports that 12 percent say they have already started saving for retirement and 35 percent say they plan to start saving in their twenties.

According to Harvard Business Review, nearly 70 percent of Gen-Z teens were “self-employed” (e.g., teaching piano lessons, selling goods on eBay) versus just 12 percent that held a “traditional” teen job like waiting tables. This ability and ingenuity to turn coveted skillsets into earnings power will likely serve Gen-Zers well as they enter the labor force.

Will you be ready to work with Gen Z or serve their needs when they become your clients? In my next post we’ll explore 8 key differences between Millennials and Generation Z?”


TAGS:  Millennials vs. Gen Z, teen entrepreneurs, young people and money

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Now That’s How You Break Out of a Slump

I was comparing notes with a client the other day about the debilitating effects of “senioritis.” That’s the deadly combination of apathy, arrogance and inertia that turns normally conscientious college-bound teens like ours into highly emotional and lethargic couch potatoes. And we were both deep into it.

Both of our kids were accepted into their first choice colleges this year—highly selective, extremely pricey East Coast academic institutions. Now we’re wondering if we’ll have the stomach to scribble our names at the bottom of the kids’ first tuition checks after they’ve spent most of the spring “mailing it in” at school and at home.

Eighteen year olds will snap out of it as soon as September rolls around. For others, the timeline isn’t so clear, but now is not the time to throw in the towel or cash in your chips.

We all go through slumps from time to time. Whether you’re an athlete an entertainer, an entrepreneur or a professional service provider, we all go through periods in which we think we’re doing things as well as always, but we just can’t get the hits to fall, the puts to sink, the critics to reward us or the deals to close.
The onset of summer is one of the prime times for slumps as you’re caught between mounting office deadlines and family pressure to plan your vacation.

The best thing to do is keep believing in yourself, trust your process and maybe take some inspiration from the sports world.
Who is Scooter Gennett?

In the midst of an 0-for-19 slump, on a day he wasn’t even supposed to be in the starting lineup, Cincinnati Reds outfielder, Scooter Gennett became become only the 17th player in Major League Baseball history to hit four home runs in a game—one of the few non-Hall of Famers to accomplish the feat.

The modestly built 5-foot-10 outfielder (who ironically wears uniform #4) had never hit more than 4 homers in a month….let alone in one game. In fact, Gennett entered Tuesday’s game with only 38 “dingers” in his previous 1,637 Major League at bats, which means he hit almost 10 percent of his career total Tuesday night in the space of three hours.

Still not impressed? Consider that two months ago Gennett was jobless when the Milwaukee Brewers released him, only to have his hometown team (Cincinnati) pick him up on a whim. And just four days before Tuesday’s historic game, Atlanta Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips, who was traded by the Reds, ripped the Reds and Gennett to the heavens for giving away his old No. 4 so soon after his departure.

Who is Alex Honnold? 

You may not know the name, Alex Honnold, but you have probably visited California’s Yosemite Park. You have probably gazed in awe at El Capitan, Yosemite’s iconic 3,000 foot high sheer granite wall that’s more than TWICE the height of the 108-story Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago.

On Saturday, Honnold took only four hours to become the first climber ever to “free-solo” his way up one of El Cap’s most difficult routes—an ascent that takes most climbers four DAYS to complete. If you’re not familiar with free-soloing, that means climbing alone, without ropes, gear, support crew or safety nets.
Honnold, an elite climber from Sacramento, had been relatively quiet in recent years while trying to decide what his next breakthrough challenge would be—and when.

As he told The New York Times Sunday: “A couple years ago when I looked at the wall it was more fear than anything. I’d look at it and be like, ‘Oh my God that seems daunting.’ But because of all the preparation and all the time I’ve spent visualizing and imagining, by yesterday I was like, ‘This is going to be awesome.’”


Like Gennett, Honnold said the mental side of his remarkable physical feat was the key. Just like breaking out of a slump.
For more about breaking out of a slump, read Chris Winfield’s piece in Inc. Magazine

Honnold said the physical side of his climb was quite a bit of work — going up on the wall day in and day out to memorize moves, to check different sequences and figure out the best way to use the holds that feels the most secure. “But the mental side is the bigger unknown. That’s the part where you just imagine the whole experience and process it for a long time and then wait until you’re ready.”

When Gennett came to the plate for his fifth and final time in the 7th inning of Tuesday’s game, he said he wasn’t even thinking about tying one of baseball’s most enduring records. “I was watching the game, but I wasn’t really instinctually seeing the lineup and all that. I guess that may have helped me that I didn’t put pressure on myself.”

As my other son’s baseball coach told him the other day during the midst of his own hitting slump: “Just focus on the mechanics and keep grinding away every day, and the hits will come.” Next game: two hits and a walk in three trips to the plate.

As we get older, life gets more complicated than hitting a ball or climbing a wall, but you can’t let your inner self get in your own way. Or as baseball great Yogi Berra once quipped, “90 percent of the game is half mental.”


TAGS:  Breaking out of a slump, Alex Honnold, Scooter Gennett

Thursday, June 01, 2017

How Important Are the Things We Worry About?

Last week’s post, You Are What You Write, provoked several interesting comments. Here’s one from a TV director I know in Manhattan, who is terrified of writing. However, she is a keen observer of social dynamics and always a great storyteller. In my book, that’s being a writer.

“When I left work Friday afternoon, I had one thought in rush to catch the 6:16 train so I could get home and start the weekend with a nice cold beer. Like most people in the Northeast, I was preoccupied with worries about Memorial Day weekend traffic and whether the gloomy forecast would wash out all of the parades, kids’ ballgames and barbecues.

While totally absorbed in these thoughts, I noticed a blind woman trying to navigate her way onto the train at the 66th Street subway stop.  She seemed to hesitate when the subway arrived even though she had the aid of a seeing eye dog. There was a large gap between the platform and the subway--at least 10 inches--and I guessed that the gap was the reason for her hesitation. I offered the woman my arm which she readily accepted. 

We got on the subway together and, one by one, every passenger in our vicinity offered her (and me) a seat. I figured that was the end of it.  Well, I'll be damned, when we got to 42nd Street (my stop), she said "Times Square?"  I replied "Yes" and asked her if she was getting out at this stop. She replied: "Yes, I'm going to Grand Central".  I'll be damned again, that was where I was going! 

Once again, the bling woman took my arm and we slowly navigated our way to the shuttle between Times Square and Grand Central Station. As most of you know, the shuttle platform has an even bigger gap; one that an able-bodied, sober, seeing person could easily slip into. How the hell was the woman able to navigate these terrors on a daily basis? 
We proceeded to Grand Central while chatting a bit. At Grand Central, the seas literally parted for us and people whispered about her beautiful dog. But my companion’s next problem was figuring out which track was assigned to get her to Crestwood, her ultimate destination.

We made our way upstairs, through turnstiles and swinging doors to the departure board. I told the woman the track number and she replied, "OK, like usual" and off she went. Turns out my blind companion has been commuting for 20 years and each day she faces some peril which she inevitably has to overcome. I had a 20 minute glimpse into her world and, oh how tough it must be. If you hear me complain about stupid stuff, tell me to shut up. I couldn't have scripted a better start to the Holiday Weekend.”


As our follower reminds us, Memorial Day is for honoring (and remembering) all the brave people who fought for our country. Let’s not forget all the brave civilians who fight hard daily just to get through the day.

Let’s finish this short week strong and be thankful for what we’ve got. Keep the great comments coming.


TAGS:  Memorial Day weekend. Courage of the blind. Writing for non-writers