Thursday, June 27, 2013

Like It or Not, You Need to Be a Writer

8  steps to better brainstorming in 30 minutes

To build credibility, professionals like yourselves should publishing articles (or shooting short videos) regularly on hot-button topics that are near and dear to your clients. OK. Writing’s not easy for many of us, but if you can stay focused and brainstorm the right way for just 30 minutes, you’ll be well on your way to being published. We have an 8-step process here that can really help you unlock your “Inner Writer.” We’ll get to those in a minute.

Establish Credibility
Establishing credibility with your clients, prospects and potential business partners is the most effective form of marketing you can do. We’re not talking about tweeting, tagging photos or “Liking” something on Facebook. We’re talking about building the kind of credibility that actually pulls prospects to you and makes them want to work with you—and recommend you to others.

Go Fast
Most financial, legal, accounting and insurance professionals are very smart people. Not many are professional writers. While you might not think twice about posting to social media, a blog, an online discussion forum, or a newspaper website, writing for publication—especially for your peers—can appear daunting. Sure, you can hire a freelance writer to help you. But the fact is, writing for publication isn't as challenging as you might think.

*** Click here for our 8 Steps to Better Brainstorming

Macro ViewAs expected, the financial markets have taken investors on a needless roller coaster ride this week, so ignore it and look at the (mostly positive) long term economic indicators that affect your business the most. The Commerce Department announced this week that businesses increased their orders in May for long-term manufactured goods. And for the third straight month, a special index of business investment plans rose—it’s a gauge that excludes the highly volatile transportation and military contracts sector. Need more? The widely cited Case-Shiller housing index showed a 12.1 percent gain over this time a year ago.

ConclusionCongrats. You may not be a professional writer (yet), but you’re using your writing to enhance your profession. You’re not only being published with byline attribution, but you’re driving qualified traffic to your website and LinkedIn profile. People are commenting, sharing and citing what you have to say. You’re getting more invitations to write, speak and teach than you ever thought possible. And best of all, you’re getting qualified client leads and referrals from other professionals.

More tips can be found on our blog and the FREE Resources page of our website.

Tags: Brainstorming, credibility, writing for legal financial accounting professionals, thought leadership 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tablet Ownership Doubles and Why You Should Care

If you think everyone in your circle of influence is tapping on a tablet these days, you’re not alone. According to the Pew Research Center, more than one third (34%) of American adults now own a tablet device of some kind, almost double the 18 percent adoption rate at this time a year ago. The recent Pew report said tablet adoption spikes in the 35-44 age bracket and appears to rise alongside educational attainment and household income level. The most popular brands are iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google Nexus and Kindle Fire. No surprises there.

What struck us most about the Pew report is that tablets, unlike smartphones, are still owned primarily by the high income/high education demographic that your clients fall into:

·         Those living in households earning at least $75,000 per year (56%), compared with lower income brackets
  • Adults ages 35-44 (49%), compared with younger and older adults
  • College graduates (49%), compared with adults with lower levels of education
Unlike smartphones, which are most popular with younger adults ages 18-34, the highest rates of tablet ownership is among adults in their late 30s and early 40s. In fact, almost half of adults ages 35-44 now own a tablet computer, significantly more than any other age group. There are no statistically significant differences in tablet ownership between men and women, or between members of different racial or ethnic groups. But, that 35-44 demo is going to be the heart of your target market in the next 5-10 years.

What this means for me?

First, while all the online gurus from inside and outside your organization are telling you make everything mobile friendly, you need to distinguish between all things mobile. What resonates on a 7-9 inch tablet screen can be vastly different than what works on a tiny smartphone screen. Also, remember that some of your younger web designers and marketing folks are not the same demographic as you and your clients. They’re more likely to be smartphone slingers than tablet tappers. Don’t let them push you into designing what’s best for them and their peers. You’re paying them to design what’s best for you and your client base.

Macro View

Expect the Fed to drive the nervous nellies (aka profit takers) on Wall Street crazy for a few more weeks. But the underlying economic indicators continue to point upward. Slowly and surely upward like the last stages of a high altitude mountain climb or bike race—but the key word is “up.”

Housing starts rose 6.8 percent in May according to the Commerce Department this week and builders applied for more permits to build single family homes that at any time in the past five years. Government data shows that new home construction has risen 28.6 percent since May of 2012, bolstering hopes of a full-fledged housing recovery. We’ve got plenty more data if you need it.


At the end of the day, your clients, prospects and stakeholders are migrating to an always connected mobile mindset. Just remember that the device they use for phone calls, emails, instant messages and snapshots is not necessarily the device they use to engage with your thought leadership content. If you’ve got something important and substantive to share with your target market, first consider which device they’re going to use to read/view/download it. Is it something that fits into their briefcase—or the back pocket of a tight pair of jeans?


Tags: Housing starts, building permits, housing recovery, tablet ownership,
iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google Nexus, Kindle Fire

Friday, June 14, 2013

Salvaging an Unproductive Day

Let’s face it. Even hard-charging, Type-A, hyper-caffeinated people like ourselves get into a rut from time to time. Sure we’ve learned how to “mail it in” by looking busy, by sending out important sounding emails, by billing some hours and checking a few things off the to-do list. But sometimes, for a wide variety of reasons, that laser focus isn’t there.  The ideas aren’t flowing, the adrenaline isn’t pumping and you’re months away from your next vacation. What to do?

Productivity blogger, Aaron Lynn, recently posted on  nine common causes of unproductive days, including multi-tasking, playing to your weaknesses, constant interruptions and poor energy management. He offered both short-term and long-term fixes. But the main thing you don’t want to do is let a series of unproductive days spiral out of control. Lynn said you want to make sure that if you’re having a series of unproductive days you, want to understand why they occur and be able to get to the root of the problem. Thanks to Inc./Fast Company for bringing this to our attention.
As Lynn explains: “Sometimes, things happen that simply aren’t within our control — weather phenomena, our Internet connection goes down, a family emergency. We can try to put things in place to prevent these things from happening, but sometimes there really isn’t much we can do.”

Suppose the reason for your unproductive day is what Lynn calls “depleted willpower.” Short-term fixes include “waiting until tomorrow,” “break/nap,” and “nootropics,” which are basically legal drugs. More importantly, Lynne offers long-term fixes such as “energy management” (eating, sleeping, and exercising properly) and “downtime and renewal” (getting enough time off).

While little of what Lynne suggests is revolutionary, it’s helpful to remind ourselves that the reasons for having a bad day usually aren’t that complex. A short nap or a quick walk can go a long way toward making them bearable. But in the long term, you have to come to grips with the types of daily annoyance or client/employee irritations that consistently take you off your game and prevent you from doing your best.

Have we mastered those lessons here at HB? Heck no. But at least we’re able to recognize the signs of a potential “off day” by 10 or 11 in the morning and prevent it from ruining the rest of the day (or week).

As my old college track coach used to bark: “Anyone can run fast when they’re feeling great. I’m going to teach you how to run fast when you feel like crap. So when you’re ass falls off at the one-mile mark, go back and find your ass, stick it back on, and get back in the race.” What he was trying to say was that the team needed each and every runner to finish the race and try to score some points even if they weren’t going to set a personal best that day.
A little old school I know. But just try this philosophy for a week and you’ll be amazed at how many many boxes on your to-do list suddenly get checked off.

Index of Business/Entrepreneurship media up

Whether or not you believe all the noise coming out of Washington, one gauge of the economy that we like to use here is the total of advertising pages at business, technology and entrepreneurial magazines. By that lens, things are up 8.8 percent over this time a year ago, according to data we compiled from min/min online. The group we track includes Inc. Magazine (up 30.4%), Forbes (+13.3%), Fast Company  (+7.9%), Wired (+2.6%) and Entrepreneur (down 3.8%).

Macro View

Whether or not you like to play Bernanke roulette with interest rate forecasts, two government reports that came out yesterday shook some sense into the financial markets. Positive news about hiring and spending at retail businesses gave a badly needed jolt of optimism to investors about the strength of the economic recovery.


Like off days in investing, sports, relationships and the weather, bad days are inevitable at work. It’s not so much trying to avoid them or blame them on others—it’s how you bounce back from them, learn from them and understand what could be dragging you down into a continuous spiral of frustration, inertia or wheel spinning.

As heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson once quipped: “Everybody has a plan until you get a punch in the mouth.” You’ll never avoid every jab that’s thrown your way. But you can always get yourself off the mat and back into the fight before the game of life counts you out for that round.

Tags: Aaron Lynne, productivity guru, salvaging a bad day,
Our FREE Resources page has more. 

Friday, June 07, 2013

Tablets displacing PCs and why you should care

A new study caught our eye this week and we wanted to share it with you. Researchers from IDC Worldwide predict that tablet shipments are expected to grow 58.7 percent this year to 229.3 million units. Why should you care about that number? Because tablet shipments are predicted to exceed those of portable PCs this year, as the slumping PC market will likely see negative growth for the second consecutive year. The IDC study also said that tablet shipments should outpace the ENTIRE PC market (portables and desktops combined) by 2015.

The tipping point is upon us. Click on these links for additional IDC information about Tablets, and about PCs. With tablets racing past portables in 2013 (and total PCs in 2015), there’s going to be a major change in how consumers and business professionals do what we like to call the 6 Cs:

·         Communicate
·         Compute
·         Connect
·         Collaborate, and
·         Create Content.

What this means for you is that your clients, prospects and stakeholders are increasingly mobile, impatient and distracted. They’re more likely than ever to be reading, downloading and watching what you have to say on a small screen device and away from their desks. You have less room to work with and less room for mistakes.

It also means your email subject lines have to be crisper. Your videos must be shorter and less intrusive. Every webinar must deliver exactly what you promise right from the first minute. Your newsletters must be on target every issue and your case studies, white papers and archived web events must be easier to download and highly relevant.

Special challenges for those in professional services

Most of you are well educated highly skilled professionals. You know how to be relevant. You have the subject matter expertise that so many other “posers” on the web don’t have. You know how to be thorough, accurate and comprehensive. The challenge is being brief when you have so much to share with your audience and when you’re dealing with complex topics, mountains of research, precedents and regulations.

That’s what we do all day long. Do we always get it right? Of course not. But we know an awful lot about how to do it wrong.  Our blog and FREE Resources share more.

Macro View

Today’s jobs report shows that U.S. employers added 175,000 new hires in May, slightly ahead of expectations. While skeptics say that unemployment remains historically high and
the economic recovery has shown some signs of slowing, we’re still convinced that the underlying fundamentals remain strong for this economy--remember, we’re in a new normal era. Housing is recovering in most major metro areas and the Federal Reserve said yesterday that that the net worth of most American households is higher than before the recession hit five and a half years ago.

Any more dramatic drops in the financial markets will be a result of investors using the recent worries above as an excuse to take profits.


We’re at the inflection point of a Big Data world hitting a small screen environment. Every word and pixel counts. Respect how busy your target market is and choose your words carefully. Be fast. Be relevant and keep it real.  If you can do those simple things consistently, your clients and prospects will thank you time and time again with referrals and continued loyalty.


Tags: IDC worldwide. Tablets outpace portable PCs, housing market, jobless rate