Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Use Images to Sell Your content, but Be Smart About Visual Choices

Is a picture really worth 1,000 words? That’s debatable, but there’s no doubt that adding visuals to your blog posts, newsletters, case studies, research reports--and even your tweets--will substantially improve engagement. If you can include images of people, that will push the engagement needle even further than simply images of things and places. So forget about writing and just publish photos and video content right?

Not so fast.

Since 2010, we’ve been co-publishing a newsletter, website, magazine and annual research report for trade association execs with our client, Naylor, LLC. It’s all under the Association Adviser brand. Last month, in the Association Adviser eNewsletter, we decided to see for ourselves if images really made a different. As Naylor’s Brianna Lawson explained in The Power of Visual Content in Association Communications, we published two versions of the monthly newsletter--each version had identical content, but one version included images and the other did not. We ran an A/B test in which each email was first sent to a small number of subscribers. Then, our mailing system measured which version earned more engagement in terms of opens and clicks.
The result? The email with images garnered 33 percent more clicks to articles on our website.

The newsletter with images was also more likely to be forwarded and more likely to be shared via social media. Naylor repeated the exercise with some of its own clients and found similar results.

According to HubSpot, twice as many people prefer emails with images than prefer text only emails (65% vs. 35%). Tweets with images receive 18 percent more clicks, 89 percent more favorites, and 150 percent more retweets than text-only tweets. And according to Social Bakers, which looks at the top 10 percent of posts made by more than 30,000 brand pages. Facebook posts with photos saw the most engagement – accounting for 87 percent of total interactions.


People like to look at people and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual, according to Market Domination Media. But don’t go overboard. As we’ll discuss in next week’s post, new research from Carnegie Mellon University, the brain makes mistakes because it applies incorrect inner beliefs, or internal models, about how the world works. So, take the time to find the right images to complement all the hard work you put into your writing and presentations. Just as a stunning photo, can keep people interested in a poorly written article or post, a dull or poor choice of images will kill potential interest in a brilliantly crafted post.

Have a happy Holiday and think before you post.

Best, HB

Our blog has more as well as the FREE Resources page of our website.

Tags: adding images to email, Hubspot, Carnegie Mellon University, Social Bakers, Market Domination Media


Monday, December 14, 2015

Can’t Focus These Days? Put Your Device Down and Go Read a Book

Since our last post Start Your New Year’s Resolutions Right Now! generated a fair amount of feedback, we thought we’d follow up with more about the benefits of getting an early start on your New Year’s resolutions. If you accomplish nothing else in 2016, try taking a break from your mobile devices from time to time and test-drive your planned resolutions for a few weeks, before fully committing to them.

If you suspect that you might be having more trouble than ever pulling yourself away from your pocket-sized digital alter ego, you’re not alone.
“The net is designed to be an interruption system, a machine geared to dividing attention,” according to Nicholas Carr author of “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.” According to Carr, “We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive.” What’s more, a recent  Adobe survey, found the average white-collar worker spends about six hours a day (30+ hours a week) on email. In fact, more than half of millennials check email from the bathroom!

In our tireless efforts to stay up to speed with all of the digital communities to which we belong, we’re actually doing nothing really well. About two weeks ago, Tony Schwartz had a great piece in the New York Times
Addicted to Distraction and we suggest you give it a skim. According to Schwartz, our endless access to new information also easily overloads our working memory. “When we reach cognitive overload, our ability to transfer learning to long-term memory significantly deteriorates. It’s as if our brain has become a full cup of water and anything more poured into it starts to spill out.”

C’mon. You don’t think that’s a problem!

Borrow a page from Carr and take on more fully absorbing activities as part of your day. You could even read a book. Carr said he not only reads books because he loves them, but they’re also a “continuing attention-building practice.”

Since he started his digital fasting, he’s retained his longtime ritual of deciding the night before on the most important thing he can accomplish the next morning--that’s his first work activity most days, for 60 to 90 minutes without interruption. Afterward, he takes a 10- to 15-minute break to quiet his mind and renew his energy.
If he has other work during the day that requires sustained focus, he goes completely offline for designated periods, repeating his morning ritual. In the evening, when he goes up to his bedroom, he nearly always leaves the digital devices downstairs.


New Year’s resolutions and other forms of behavior modification are not easy to stick to, but testing them out before you commit is a great way to set reasonable, attainable goals for yourself and your team. Have fun and enjoy the Holidays this year, but don’t wait until after January 1st to hit the ground running.

Our blog has more as well as the FREE Resources page of our website.

Tags: Tony Schwartz, Nicholas Carr, The Internet Is Destroying Our Brains, Lack of Focus

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Start Your New Year’s Resolutions Right Now!

Use this month to work out the bugs in your big audacious goals for 2016—it’s not just about willpower, it’s about the stamina needed to stick with it throughout the year and beyond.

It’s getting colder and darker in many parts of the country. Your inbox is constantly bombarded with last minute Holiday offers. The parties are starting. The late-season football games are on almost every night—and inevitably they’re going into overtime and keeping you up past your bedtime. Fruitcakes, cookies and chocolates are piling up in the office kitchen faster than the incomplete budget forecasts and year-end statements on your desk. Your nieces, nephews and grandchildren are texting you constant revisions to their Holiday gift lists.

And then those annoyingly happy family Holiday cards start rolling in. Perfect lighting. Perfect smiles. Perfect teeth. Now you’re spouse wants to book last-minute flights to New Zealand just so you can re-take your own “perfect family” photo at a deserted white sand beach at sunset. Can’t let anyone “out-cute” and out-smile your kids.

Ah, the Holidays! Just get me through the next month, you say to yourself, and you’ll start hitting the gym again, lose 10 pounds, get your desk and hard-drive cleaned up and back on track for 2016.


You have to start NOW on those New Year’s resolutions—Yes, during the very first days of December--and find a way to stick to them. Not only that, WRITE THEM DOWN and display them publicly….at least in your home, if not your place of work….to ensure extra accountability.

Not to be a Debbie Downer in December, but now’s the best time to test out your resolutions and work the bugs out so you can hit the ground running in January. You need to be brutally honest with yourself about your willpower, your stamina and how reasonable your goals are. The key is to own your resolutions; don’t let them own you.

Realistic goals

If you’re a couch potato, which resolution are you more likely to stick to—running a marathon in six months or walking/jogging for 20 minutes three times per week? If your goal is to be a published author in 2016, which plan are you more likely to stick to—having the first 6 chapters of your new book done by July 4, or starting a weekly blog that goes out each and every Thursday, even when you’re traveling? If can’t put off building a social media presence any longer, which resolution are you more likely to stick to—gaining 10,000 new followers in 2016, or making 1-2 really meaningful new contacts each and every month?

Trust us, the phased-in, consistent approach to behavior modification (aka personal resolutions) works. You’ll feel better about yourself and probably look better, too the next time we see you. And there’s nothing worse than seeing a new company blog with four to six posts in January, two in February, one in March and then not another one until June. Oops!

Why resolutions don’t stick

Harvard Business School professor, Amy Cuddy told Huffington Post that resolutions don’t stick because we’re setting ourselves up for failure. “We tend to set unreasonable aims for ourselves and then experience negative emotions and a lack of motivation when we don’t reach them,” she observed. “Failing to meet the unreasonable goals we set for ourselves can in turn take a negative toll on our self-worth.” 

We also have way too many options for what Ken Tencer, CEO of Spyder Works, Inc. calls self-innovation. “I don’t know many people who are completely content with themselves,” said Tencer. “Most of us have one or two things we’d like to improve, enlarge, reduce or re-invent. Either directly or through online course providers, we can now take thousands of university courses from esteemed institutions. Or we can find websites that teach us how to change the oil in our car, enhance our yoga skills or learn a new language. Being innovative with our own lives is an excellent complement to being innovative in our businesses.

Sound familiar?

According to researcher Richard Wiseman, half of all Americans set themselves a New Year’s resolution, but most who do (88%) fail. He agrees with Cuddy that we set goals that are too high or too audacious and that we also tend to be impatient, sprinting out of the gate in search of immediate “returns” rather than taking “baby steps” that will take some time before they move the needle.

Beating the odds

Trying to get your clients to modify their financial behavior in the new year can be quite challenging, too. But it can be highly rewarding if true changes result, said Dr. Glenn Freed of Los Angeles based Vericimetry Advisors LLC, who we’ve been working with for several years. “And you’ll further cement your status as a client’s most trusted advisor,” said Freed.
“Framing a legal, charitable or financial planning discussion around New Year’s resolutions can be quite effective for communicating with clients,” added Freed. “You can have discussions in person or through a client newsletter. The key is to use these resolutions as a way to check in with clients throughout the year.


Advisors help their clients follow up on resolutions not only in December, but throughout the year. Framing the financial planning discussion in this way at the start of the year and then following up consistently can be an effective way to help clients stay on the path to financial resolution success. Make 2016 a great year no matter what the markets, the economy and geopolitical factors throw at us.

But you’ve got to start NOW—not after the Holidays.

Our blog has more as well as the FREE Resources page of our website.

Tags: New Year’s Resolutions early, Dr. Glenn Freed, Vericimetry Advisors LLC, financial planning resolutions, Amy Cuddy, Richard Wiseman, Ken Tencer