3 Things I Hate About Your Newsletter

ydc-newsletter-banner-2-14I’ve been doing a lot of work on client newsletters lately. Sprucing them up, editing content, making sure the formatting and layout are clean and match their individual brands. Here’s a few things I’ve noticed about newsletters you may want to think about before scheduling your next one…

  1. It’s Totally Canned. Sure, you have resources available to you through another company or you’re in direct sales and have a template to follow. That’s great, but make sure you personalize your newsletter. Make it look like you spent more than 30 seconds forwarding it along. I have a friend who’s in direct sales, and she doesn’t have much wiggle room, but there’s always a personal note at the top of that and often an upcoming event she invites folks to.
  2. Don’t over think it. Write your newsletter, sleep on it, read it again. If it all still sounds good to you, go ahead and schedule it to send out. I can rack up a pretty big invoice for a client because they’re over thinking every piece of content that went into it. Relax, we’re all human, and we like to see when others are too. Hit the spell check button, and maybe run it past a friend to make sure you aren’t nuts in your content, but my guess is it’s just fine. Don’t over think it.
  3. Brand it! “my monthly newsletter” isn’t a great subject line. update it monthly. Make sure your colors are the colors in your logo (yes you can use the color codes!) Make sure all the fonts are the same and the same size (or correct variations). DON’T YELL AT US. Your newsletter should be an extension of the work you do, it should feel like an extension of everything else you send out and do. Spend a little time setting up a good template, a PROFESSIONALLY designed header and making sure it looks like something you’re proud of. If you do this once, you’re set moving forward, I promise.

April Pop Culture Roundup!

imgresThanks to recent travels and a boom in Season finales and season premiers, there’s a lot to discuss here this month…


Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan LineI’m not saying this is high art, BUT if you’re a fan of the TV show (and maybe backed the movie and went on opening day…) then you’ll love the book. It reads just like an episode of the show, and does a good job of making sure new to the world folks know who’s who. A very fun airplane read last week!

The Fifth Wave- I’m still reading this book and really enjoying it. They jump around through a few characters dealing with a post apocalyptic kind of world. My dad claims it’s his favorite YA Post-apocalypse book after The Hunger Games…I’m sold!


Nickel Creek – wow I didn’t realize how much I missed this band! I saw them in concert years ago, and loved their previous release. Their new album A Dotted Line is pretty fantastic great work music.

I still can’t get enough of the new Pharrel album and every time I hear Fitz and the Tantrums I like them more and more…


The Americans- good grief this show is great. You need to be watching it. I’m loving this season!

Mad Men - It’s Back! While some are complaining that they don’t care about the office drama, I trust Matt Weiner that as with every other season, this will end up that every random thing we see has its place.

Game of Thrones- This season is off to a great start! The final scene in Episode 2 did exactly what you always want a show to do, but they won’t do. It’s pretty fantastic. My only request? More dragons!

Parks & Rec- Hands down my favorite show on TV. I like the pregnancy twist this season, triplets are a little unnecessary, but I’m curious for the season finale this week that includes Michelle Obama and my bet is that job in Chicago comes back into play…

Alright- what’s are you reading, listening to and watching this month? The sunshine on Easter made for a great excuse to sit outside and read, I’m looking forward to summer!

Why Pick One When You Can Pick Five?

BkBE92PCQAAiMqzOne thing I often do for clients is review content and make suggestions. Sometimes it doesn’t take much, a few minor tweaks here or there. Sometimes we need to make some big changes to ensure that potential clients know WHAT they do and why. And more often than not, we’re cleaning up the content to make it tighter and more efficient. Too often we take five words to say what could be said in one or two.

Take a look at your content, does that giant paragraph LOOK like something you want to read? Does it make sense? Does it use twice as many words as necessary to say the same thing? It may be time for a refresh.

Taking Advantage of Kindness

IMG_6058Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about offering up your time, and people taking advantage of it. I spoke to a group a couple of months ago, and a few people asked to have coffee and meet with me afterwards. I said yes, and when I met with one person, he chit chatted the time away, and didn’t take much advantage of the opportunity he had to pick my brain. As we were leaving, he mentioned getting together again in a couple of weeks to brainstorm on our businesses. WHAT? Sorry dude, that ship has sailed. We aren’t at the same stage of our companies, and I have people in my life for that. Plus, you aren’t a good use of my time.

Sure it’s harsh, but let’s be honest: it’s true.

About a year ago I met with someone starting a company as a favor to a friend. Cool company, not a lot of use for my business, but I did refer this company to a client of mine. My client had 2 calls with them, and then they asked to meet in person with my client. My client emailed me and said “I’m busy, I understand their business now, and will refer if it makes sense. Is it Ok to say no?” YES, it’s okay to say no!

Folks, if you need something from another business owner, make sure you maximize the time you have with them. Don’t expect that they want to meet with you more than once, and if all they offer is 30 minutes on the phone, TAKE IT. I mentioned this in my blog post on Tuesday as well, this article explains my sentiments probably better than I am today. If you aren’t willing to pay for it, please assume we aren’t willing to give it away.

Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy learning about new companies and there will be times when I am looking for a specific kind of company to work with. BUT, I’m busy running my business. And unless you want to hire me to help you with your business, I have work to do!

3 Articles You Should Read This Week

photoOver the past few days, thanks to Twitter, I’ve come across some great articles worth sharing. In case you don’t keep up on my Twitter feed, here’s a couple of articles I think are worth noting…

1. Yelp- those Bastards!- Most of my small business clients use Yelp, and we always talk about how cautious to be, and that they may hold good reviews, and post more negative reviews. Evidently we aren’t all making it up, even if Yelp says it’s not their fault.

2. Stop Giving it Away- this was a great blog post about not giving your time away for free. I’ve been feeling this way for a while, and if you are too, or you are in a position where you need help or to “pick someone’s brain” make sure you’re being respectful.

3. Me Vs. You – a great post about pronouns in your newsletter and website. Good reminders to us all.

Bonus! LinkedIn Business Page Changes- okay, this isn’t at all as sexy, but as a small business owner, it’s good to make sure you know the Services page is going away. LinkedIn continues to not be very helpful or play nice with others, so we’ll see how this goes.

Marketing Terms Decoded: Brand vs. Marketing

Today’s Guest Post is from Maria Ross! Maris is a brand strategist, speaker and author who believes cash flow and creativity are not mutually exclusive. She is creator of Red Slice, advising start-ups, small businesses and entrepreneurs on how to craft irresistible brands. Maria’s latest book, the 2nd edition of her Amazon best-seller, Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget launched on April 1. Below is an adapted excerpt for your reading pleasure.

BrandingBasics-2ndEdition-Front -150x232Along with believing brand is the same thing as a logo, people often confuse branding with public relations and marketing tactics, such as press releases, advertising, social media—even price promotions. In reality, brand forms the foundation of your marketing plan: it shouldn’t come after the fact. Only by clarifying your Brand Strategy are you able to make the right decisions, such as if and where to advertise, whether to buy a booth at a particular event, and where to send press releases.

 Branding and Marketing Are Not the Same

If any of you suffered through business school as I did, you learned about the Four P’s of Marketing—product, price, place, and promotion:

1.  Product (or Service): What do we sell and how do we make it?

2.  Price: How much do we charge for it?

3.  Place: Where and how do we get it to our end consumers?

4.  Promotion: How do we get people to know it exists and convince them to buy it?

So, broadly, marketing is an umbrella term for bringing products or services to “market” and effectively selling them. Too often, small business owners only think of marketing in terms of the fourth P, Promotion. But marketing encompasses so much more. Subcategories that fall under marketing can include areas such as advertising, events, marketing research, media/press relations, lead generation, website, search engine marketing, social media, pricing, competitive analysis – just to name a few.

Organizations roll all the associated strategies and tactics within these subcategories into a collective marketing plan. The marketing plan covers the tactics and themes each group will execute during the year: Which ads will be placed, where will those ads go, and what will be the main messages? On which markets will we focus? What products will we promote at different times of the year? What is the product release schedule? What is the competition doing this year? What customer-acquisition campaigns will take place? Which events will we sponsor?

Brand forms the foundation of your overall marketing strategy but is not the same thing as a marketing strategy. Brand touches much more than marketing and can serve as a litmus test for your operations, hiring practices, distribution strategy, and partner selection.

People often believe advertising and branding are inter-changeable and mean the same thing. They don’t. Advertising is a marketing tactic based on the Brand Strategy. Advertising is but one vehicle to communicate your brand message to the world. Brand positioning should be thought out before you create an advertisement.

The beauty of owning a small business is that things are far less complicated and you have a huge opportunity to get this right where the big guys might trip up. If you’re new and just launching a business, this is the perfect time to build your Brand Strategy. Determine the brand before you create a marketing plan, so you won’t spend precious time and money chasing your tail.

As a small business owner, you don’t need a complicated marketing plan. A Brand Strategy can show you what you do and don’t need. Being small means you’re close to your customers and all decisions are made by you. This means you call the shots and can ensure all the pieces align. Being nimble and small are strengths and can help you build your brand the right way from the start.

Networking with Yellow Dog In April

imgresHappy April folks! Spring is in the air and it’s time to stop hibernating and get out and network! Here’s a few places you’ll find me this month, and some suggestions of other cool events I think you may want to check out!

Friday, April 11th

Social Media Lunch Hosted by King5

My pal Tracy Taylor is emceeing this event that’s already sold out (sorry!). If you want to learn more about how the news outlets keep up with Social Media, this will be a great event!

Friday, April 11th – Sunday April 13

International Public Debate Association National Tournament

Remember when I went to Arkansas last year to judge a debate tournament? Evidently I wasn’t too offensive and I’ve been invited back with the Whitworth Forensics Team to bring the National Championship to Washington! This year the tournament is at Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro, I can’t WAIT!

Thursday, April 17th

eWomenNetwork Luncheon

You know my love of eWomenNetwork! This is a fantastic organization for women in business who are looking to grow their business, get education, and have a community of like minded people in their corner. This organization has been instrumental in Yellow Dog’s success!

Friday, April 25th

Whitworth Pirates in Puget Sound Alumni Event!

As you know, I’m a proud graduate of Whitworth University in Spokane. We’ve launched a Western Washington alumni chapter. If you are an alumni of Whitworth, we’d love to have you join us (Leonard Oakland AND a bar, it’s going to be great!)

March Pop Culture Roundup

Untitled-111I know it’s April First, and no this isn’t a joke, I was on vacation last week, and wanted to wait till after I got caught up on a few pop culture things before letting you know what I loved about March. So, as per the usual, here’s what’s made me happy in Pop Culture this month!


Pharrell Williams- Girl. WOW this album is amazing. I’ve  liked Pharrell for years, and this album does NOT dissapoint. Move beyond Happy, which is so dang catchy, and the rest of the album is the perfect driving music (or sitting by the pool in Vegas with your family…)


We’re now at the season finale portion of the year, and two great ones happened this month…

Brooklyn 99- this show is so funny, and although I didn’t think it deserved the Golden Globe for best comedy, it has proved its own this season. I loved the cliffhangers they left us with, and look forward to it’s season return in the fall!

The Walking Dead- okay what happened on Sunday? Cannibals? Holy cow that was a great cliffhanger- I’m just mad I have to wait 6 months for it to return!

Books & Comics

Visitation Street- Okay, I actually kind of hated this book. It’s a great premise of two girls who float off on a raft and one girl goes missing, and the other doesn’t know what happened. It didn’t keep my attention and then wrapped up a little to neatly for my taste…

Ms. Marvel- this may be my new favorite comic book. It’s only 2 issues in so still time to catch up easily. A Muslim female super hero- I can get behind this!

The IllegitimatesWhat if a James Bond-esque character died? What if 5 of the women he slept with had kids who possess dad’s skills? I really am enjoying this new series from Taran Killiam (of SNL)!

A Quick Reminder About Voicemail…

imagesSlow down. Stop. Slow down. Pretend you’re talking to a kid, one that just learned how to answer the phone AND write.
I got a voicemail today from a company that said if I had questions to call them. She spoke so quickly, then repeated, that I couldn’t have gotten the number if I wanted it.
If you want a chance at people replying to your voicemail, slow down. Tell me why you’re calling, tell me WHY you want me to call you back, and SLOWLY leave your phone number. Then leave your number again, and your name.
I won’t lie- my biggest obstacle to calling someone back is if the phone number they called from isn’t the number they want me to call them back at. I am VERY lazy. If I can hit “return call” I just might do that. But if I have to write down a number and then dial it? I’ll have to really like you and want to talk to you for that to happen…

Ask Yellow Dog: The 2 Company Conundrum

Hank's Ready to Listen!Occasionally people will email me with  a sales & marketing challenge they need a bit of help with. In the latest edition we’re talking about running 2 companies and not confusing your network in the process…

I have two separate, but related companies. My questions is: I obviously can’t market one product at some events and another at another event, but I have two cards and think it is weird. They are two separate companies.  Sometimes I hand out both cards to different people at the same meeting. Is that weird?

Promote what sounds right to you depending on the event you are at. The fact that you are getting referrals instead of finding your own clients is AWESOME, most of my work comes from referrals as well, and it’s so nice to not have to go out and hunt for the jobs! So, spending time at networking events and with people who are actively referring you business is a good place to be (and your target market!).

I think having two cards is no problem-  some people will be interested in one business, but have no need/interest in the other business. When you are giving your elevator pitch at an event, just pick ONE of these two companies to “pitch” but keep listening to what everyone else at the table is saying and doing. This where FOLLOW UP is key. “hey great to meet you, I didn’t get a chance to mention this to you at the event, but I also do…” That’s if you don’t get a chance to talk more with them over lunch or afterwards.

If you have a burning sales or marketing question- you can always Ask Yellow Dog!