4 Tech Tools to Simplify Your Online Marketing

February 19th, 2014

Lady-Covered-Post-ItsAre you feeling overwhelmed with your long list of online marketing TO-DOs? How will you ever find the time to get them all done?

I know how you feel. I’ve been able to greatly reduce my stress level by setting up business systems with various tech tools. Even if you only get 10-20% more efficient in your marketing, this can lead to a HUGE reduction in your overwhelm.

Here are my favorite picks to set your business up for success:

Keep Track Of Everything With Trello.com
Trello.com is my magic solution to make sure things get out of my head and onto a TO-DO list. One of the biggest benefits is the ability to see what I want to do – then easily sort it into what I actually have time for. Many things that I used to stress over are simply taken off my priority list!

I love this system because it is very flexible. You can color code tasks, add files or checklists and change the priority at any time. You can access your lists from mobile devices or your desktop, and also share it with other people. It’s a system that will grow with your business. Learn more about Trello.com here.

“Make Room” For Your Important Marketing Tasks
Need to plan around important business & life obligations? Create multiple Google calendars that can be viewed together to easily find time for your priorities (and help you say NO to over-booking!).

Once you can see your schedule, it’s easy to “find time” to do your marketing. Set aside small chunks of time to connect on social networks or do other marketing. Refer back to your Trello.com lists and get your marketing priorities done. Learn more about using multiple Google calendars here.

Use Buffer to Schedule Posts on Social Networks
One of the biggest hurdles to posting regularly on social networks is being online to post during the peak times your target audience is also online. Fortunately, you don’t have to be online all of the time! Take one of the small chunks of time that you now have available, and use it to schedule posts on your social networks that will go live online at the times you select.

You can share news stories, blog posts & pictures to your Facebook profile & Page, Twitter, LinkedIn Profiles & Company Page and Google+ Pages. Learn more about using Buffer here.

Use TimeTrade To Easily Schedule Appointments Online
The purpose of all networking and marketing is to eventually have sales conversations. Meetings with prospective customers are the fuel that makes your marketing machine run.

TimeTrade is my favorite scheduling tool. It stops the endless emails and voice mails trying to arrange meetings. It lets your prospects and clients easily select a time with online appointment scheduling. It also syncs up with your Google calendar to create a system that works for you, 24/7! Learn more about TimeTrade here.

Try these tools out to start reducing your marketing overwhelm!
I’ve used these tools to go from scattered to focused. They have allowed me to clear many of my tasks from my plate and focus my marketing efforts = better results with less effort. You can do it, too! If you have any questions about these tools, just ask!


Linda Schenk, founder of The Brand Builder System with Virtuallinda (www.virtuallinda.com), is a web designer and online business strategist. With 20+ years of experience, Virtuallinda can guide you through the confusion of developing your online marketing. Her expertise in branding, strategy, graphic design, technology and creativity will quickly transform your scattered ideas into profits.

February 2014 Meeting Summary

February 17th, 2014

The February NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held on Monday, February 3, 2014 in Fairfax, VA.  There were 31 members and 7 guests in attendance. 

The meeting started with active networking….  Members visited the Corporate Partner Meet and Greet table hosted by Book Bliss Online and the Ask the Experts table.

Eileen LaGreca welcomed everyone. Kimberly Gleason introduced our guests. 

Mary Malmberg introduced our Corporate Partners in attendance:

Representative

Company

Helen Long

Partners Estate Sales

Joe Johnson

Shelf Genie

Kate Crawley

Building Bridges Partners

Alonso Zamora

B-Thrifty

Dr. Dale Keeton

B-Thrifty

Sharon Bliss

Book Bliss Online

Debrah McCallen

123 Junk

Guests: Brian Justice – JK Moving, Delante Clark – Green Vista Junk Removal

Joe Johnson spoke about ShelfGenie.  ShelfGenie serves the entire DC Metro area. They design custom made shelf-pullouts so clients get the most out of every each of their cabinets.  Their cabinets are made in the USA. 

Educational Program

Janice Rasmussen introduced the educational program: Money Work – How Our Money Mindset Drives Results with Cindy Morgan-Jaffe.

Cindy discussed that having a good relationship with your money can affect all areas of your life. She had members think about some of their common beliefs about money and why they have those beliefs. Members participated in several activities, including listing when they feel good and bad about money, looking at how they organize their wallet, and determining their money personality type. There are many money personality types, including Money Avoider, Money Monk, and Risk-Avoider. Most people are a combination.  Each type has positive and negative qualities, as well as different investment tendencies.

Chapter Business Meeting

Board nominations are open until February 21st!  If you are interested, contact Janet Schiesl.

The next meeting will be held on March 3rd in Bethesda, MD.

GO Month 2014 NAPO-WDC Style

February 15th, 2014

NAPO-WDC started the New Year off right by jumping in with a huge GO Month project. Our chapter members don’t shy away from an organizing challenge and this one fit the bill. On Saturday, January 4th over 30 members of NAPO-WDC and 4 chapter Corporate Partners reorganized the warehouse of Women Giving Back. WGB is a non-profit group from the building industry that supports homeless women and their children with clothing to help them enter the workplace. Women Giving Back is an all volunteer group that services 100 shelters and programs each month, distributing over 50,000 items of clothing.

GOMonth1Altogether, including NAPO-WDC members, friends and family, more than 50 people participated in the event. And who knew? Virginia’s Governor-Elect, Terry McAulliffe stopped by to see what we were up to. NAPO-WDC chapter President Eileen LaGreca and GO Month Chairperson Maria White had a chance to speak with Governor McAulliffe about NAPO and our Get Organized project.

 

The day was filled with sorting donations, purging off-season clothing, setting up a more efficient work flow within the warehouse and of course labeling bins, tables and work zones so the Women Giving Back volunteers can more effectively service their clients. We worked tirelessly to great reviews, “WGB is looking fantastic! I feel like I can think and process so much better in there now! Yay!!! Thank you (NAPO-WDC) for bringing in the professionals .”

GOMonth2

 

Five Organizers Dish on Professional Boundaries

January 28th, 2014
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

As Professional Organizers, we each have to define the amount of personal information we share with our clients.

Each situation is different.  Some of us are extroverts and some are introverts, and the same goes for the people we work with. While there are no hard and fast rules, most of us agree we each need to create personal boundaries – boundaries that keep us within the NAPO Code of Ethics as well as within our comfort zones. But how? 

I recently asked four organizers for their insights on sharing personal information.  While some of their viewpoints differed in small ways, I’d like to share the main points we agreed on. Thank you Tiffany Mensing, Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton, Janet Schiesl and Susan Unger for your input!

First, we all agreed that many new clients want to know how we got started in the professional organizing business. It’s a logical question we’re all willing to answer. Often clients ask about our families, and we’re all willing to share basic information such as the city we live in, number of children, marital status and our age.

We view our answers as information that helps establish a personal connection. After all, we’re in the client’s personal space – going through financial information and/or personal belongings. They’re in a vulnerable position, and part of our job is to help them feel comfortable with us and the services we offer.

When working with long-term clients, we all tend to share more information about our lives – but we keep the conversation client-focused. For instance, we’ll share a personal story that relates to a specific task we’re working on together. Our clients like to know that our homes aren’t always perfect, and that we have organizing struggles too. That said, we all agreed the focus needs to remain on ways the client can use our information to make progress on his or her project.

Like you, we’ve all been asked inappropriate questions. One client asked how much money an organizer had in the bank! Another asked how much an organizer paid her employees. I have a client who consistently asks me for advice on the stock market. We all agreed these questions need to be redirected in a friendly, professional manner.

Finally, I asked each organizer if she spends social time with her clients.  The unanimous answer?  No. In a few instances, organizers took a client out to dinner or coffee after the completion of a difficult job, but kept those meetings on a professional level. Each organizer felt it important to keep the boundaries of client relationships business-centric to protect both the client and the organizer.

How do these viewpoints compare with yours?  Are you more relaxed about sharing personal information?  Less relaxed?  No matter what our individual style, it’s important to identify our boundaries and respect them.  This frees us up to focus on our clients’ needs while building a comfortable, professional relationship.

Sometimes “Getting Organized” is Not Enough

January 22nd, 2014

If your New Year’s Resolution is to “get organized,” I applaud you and support you!

Getting organized is a fantastic goal for so many reasons, but let’s look beyond the surface for a moment. Think of the 3-year old always asking WHY? WHY do you want to get organized? WHAT’S the payoff? WHAT’S the driver? 

For example, is the reason:

  • To Make More Money? – Do you want to be more efficient at work? Do you want to spend less time looking for things and less time on administrative tasks, so you can focus on the core revenue stream of your business and make more money?
  • To Be in Control? – Do you sometimes feel a loss of control over your office environment where you are in a reactive mode instead of a proactive mode? Do you yearn for a greater sense of control where you know where everything is when you need it? Do you crave order, but you’re working in chaos?
  • To Save Money? – How much did you rack up in finance charges and late fees this year? Are you trying to tighten your budget? Do you find yourself buying duplicate items because you can’t find the original one?

Understanding the driver behind your goal will help you get through the tough spots and provide that extra boost of motivation to see the aim through to the end. Happy New Year and here’s to getting organized!

Heather Cocozza PMP, CPO®, is a professional organizer from Arlington, VA, who has been in the business for 8 years, helping people organize their lives, time management skills, and space. Cocozza previously worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers as a Managing Consultant for 10 years and then worked for IBM as a Project Manager for 3 before using her skills towards professional organizing.  She graduated from American University—Kogod School of Business in 1992. For more, check out CocozzaOrgDesign.com.

Coryn Cocozza is a junior at James Madison University majoring in Media Arts and Design and working toward her minor in Political Science. She is a member of the Delta Gamma Fraternity and has goals to work in Journalism after graduation.

January 2014 Meeting Summary

January 20th, 2014

The January NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held on Monday, January 6, 2014 in Bethesda, MD. There were 30 members and 5 guests in attendance.

The meeting started with active networking while members visited the Corporate Partner Meet and Greet tables hosted by Lori Krause of Building Bridges Partners and Juli Monroe of 1 to 1 Discovery and the Ask the Experts table.

Mary Malmberg introduced our Corporate Partners in attendance:

Representative

Company

Helen Long

Partners Estate Sales

Candy Speight

Shelf Genie

Eduardo Maal

PC Mango

Lori Krause

Building Bridges Partners

Alonso Zamora

B-Thrifty

Andy Reiman

 Modern Image

Juli Monroe

1 to 1 Discovery

Max Rhodes

123 Junk

Guests: Errol Unikel from Home Contents Videos

Eduardo Maal spoke about PC Mango. PC Mango works with businesses to align their e-mail, contacts, and calendar to save time and money. They also provide ways to back-up and keep data secure. To help clients that want to go paperless, they will set-up work processes to digitize client’s documents. They offer free complimentary consultations.

Educational Program

Janice Rasmussen introduced the educational program: Simplifying Online Marketing: Getting from Overwhelm to Action by Linda Schenk.

Linda spoke about how to implement a marketing plan without feeling overwhelmed.  When developing your marketing plan, it is important to have a good foundation.  This involves developing one marketing tool at a time to reduce feeling overwhelmed by all the available options.  To determine the best option for you and your business, focus on how you can get to your fastest route to income.  Once you’ve established your business on one marketing tool, add another one.

Linda also noted that having an on-line presence can make referrals easier because it backs up what your referral source is saying; if you have an outdated social media profile it can mean less referrals.

Chapter Business

Janet Schiesl and Maria White thanked our wonderful GO Month volunteers!

The next meeting will be February 3, 2014 in Fairfax, VA.

Time to Join NAPO-WDC Leadership Team?

December 30th, 2013
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Every January, NAPO-WDC begins the New Year with its board election process. Just as many of us make yearly goals for our businesses, it’s time to consider how we can each contribute to our local chapter. There are many ways to volunteer throughout the year, but being part of the leadership team helps us maintain our excellence and grow our chapter.

There are many reasons members decide to take on leadership roles. We want to provide direction for the group. We want to be part of a team that respects each other and takes pride in the work we do. We realize that our chapter needs to change and adapt as our industry does, and we want to be part of it.

While volunteering can be demanding at times, the benefits far outweigh the effort. Leadership team members learn new skills in a trusting environment. We learn to communicate better and become more tech savvy. We use our talents to improve our professional association. We make new friends and expand our network.

Last but not least, we have fun! Is this the year you’d like to run for a position on the leadership team? If so, applications are available on the Members-only section of the NAPO-WDC website from January 8 to February 21, 2014. You can also request an application from Janet Schiesl.

Happy New Year!

3 Awesome Weekly Planning Tools for the Paper Person

December 23rd, 2013

I’ve always been a big fan of planning my day. My New Year’s resolution for 2014 is to plan my week as well, on a consistent basis, and I’m encouraging my clients to do the same.

Design solutions can support us when we are changing our habits, so I am trying a few different products to make my habit change easier. I keep an electronic calendar (on my iPhone which I sync to Outlook), but I find it difficult to grasp what my week looks like. Don’t ask me why, but even if I’m sitting in front of my computer, I enter appointments on my iPhone and use the Outlook calendar only for backup.

I was looking for a solution so I could see my week in its entirety and realized I’d better work fast. I have so much to do! Like many of my clients, I am a visual person and I love color. Here are three products I’m trying out (all from the Container Store):

Lulalu® Weekly Notepad, $15.99

LulaluNotepad10057938_xIt’s a pad of 50 sheets, 10” x 10”. The pad itself is sticky, but the individual sheets are not. Great colors! I have it stuck to my office door, visible from my desk, and I write on the top sheet so I can see at a glance what my week looks like. My office walls are aqua, my door is white and it brightens up the space. I don’t put all my tasks on it, just the big things – client appointments, conference calls, project work. I write as big as I can in a fine point Sharpie, so I can actually read it when I’m sitting at my desk.

Post-It® Dry Erase Planner, $8.99

PostItDryErasePlannerThis is cool. Again, great colors! This one is sticky and removable, so you can reposition it on any smooth surface: wall, refrigerator, inside a cabinet, etc. It’s 16” x 6” and I have mine on the side of a white bookcase that I can see/read when I look to my left while sitting at my desk. It’s dry-erase (markers sold separately). The columns can be customized for what ever you want: days of the week, projects, family members, etc. I have mine labeled Monday through Sunday and have it vertical rather than horizontal. When I first used it, I color coded items – one color for client appointments, one for NAPO work, one for work projects, one for fun – but it got to be too much work, so I just write everything in black now.

 

Weekly calendar sticky notes $9.99

WeeklyCalendarStickyNotes

The third product is smaller and black and white with a touch of red for Sunday, the day of rest (11 ¾” x 2 ¾”). It’s a pad of 60 individual sticky sheets labeled with the days of the week. I offered a long-time client her choice of these three weekly planners as a gift. She’s very visual and loves color, and this is the one she selected! I was surprised, but she liked the simplicity of it. It’s one of the Container Store’s stocking stuffers offered only during the holidays. I haven’t used this one myself yet, but I intend to use it for meal planning (another New Year’s resolution). It could also be used for children’s chores or any sort of to-do items. I’m going to ask the Container Store if they can stock some of this Korean company’s other products (www.jstory.co.kr).

Susan Kousek is a Certified Professional Organizer® and the owner of Balanced Spaces®, LLC in Reston, Va. Since 1990, she’s been helping clients learn how to stay organized and avoid that feeling of overwhelm. Susan believes that planning your day, and your week, is one of the best time management habits you can have. Whether you’re a solopreneur, a small business owner or an employee of a corporation, trade association or government agency, Susan can help you improve your productivity and focus, and put some balance back in your life. For more information, visit her web site www.BalancedSpaces.com.

December 2013 Meeting Summary

December 17th, 2013

The December NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held on Monday, December 2, 2013 in Fairfax, VA.

NAPO-WDC kicked off the holiday season with a White Elephant sale, My Favorite Things presentations, and fabulous catered food!

The Second Annual White Elephant Sale was a colossal success! It was obvious that even professional organizers have items they no longer want, as chapter members arrived at the meeting, bringing hundreds of organizing and business items for our White Elephant Sale. We had books on organizing, file folders, storage boxes, containers for this, containers for that, books on running your business, trays, note pads, drawer organizers, tote bags, 3-ring binders with sheet protectors, more books and many more items. All were priced to sell quickly – at $1, $2, or $3. And we even had a “free” table.

Nicole Athas (left) and C. Lee Cawley selling lots of great deals for $1!

Nicole Athas (left) and C. Lee Cawley selling lots of great deals for $1!

Special thanks to Nealey Stapleton who coordinated the White Elephant Sale and to the ten volunteers who staffed the event – Susan Kousek, Judy Tiger, Nicole Athas, Judy Parkins, C. Lee Cawley, Tiffany Mensing, Penny Catterall, Alisa Levy, Jody Al-Saigh and Maria White. The White Elephant sale collected over $260.  Half of the money went to our Community Partner, Women Giving Back, and the other half went to the winner of the raffle ticket drawing – Judy Tiger.

What did we do with the stuff that was left at the end of the evening? Corporate Partner B-Thrifty was on hand to take it all away to their thrift store in Woodbridge, VA. After many of the White Elephant goodies were snapped up, chapter members presented over 25 of their favorite organizing products and services. Some of the crowd favorites were “Shush!”, an Android app that turns your phone’s ringer back on after a set amount of time (presented by Janet Schiesl), using bar mats to store messy oil and vinegar bottles, sponges, or dish soap (presented by Kyra Szanto), and using cut pool noodles to store your boots upright and help keep their shape (presented by Mary Malmberg).

What an evening! We offered chapter members an opportunity to easily shed some of their excess stuff, buy items  they needed at a great price, make a donation to a charity, and share some awesome organizing products!

Chapter members enjoyed tasty treats and networking while shopping the White Elephant Sale!

Chapter members enjoyed tasty treats and networking while shopping the White Elephant Sale!

During the business portion of the meeting, Janet Schiesl and Maria White spoke about the upcoming chapter GO Month event, to take place on Saturday, January 4th. We will be helping our Community Partner, Women Giving Back, organize their warehouse and store. In addition, Penny Catterall, Director of Communications and Technology, announced the launch of the new mobile website for the NAPO-WDC Chapter. 

The next meeting will take place on  January 6, 2014 in Bethesda, MD.

What To Do When Business Is Slow

November 25th, 2013
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

The dreaded lull in business. Depending on our client base and business specialties, some of us can predict slow times of the year. For others, it seems like there’s no telling why some weeks and months are busier than others. The important thing to remember is that it happens to all of us, and we can choose to use the down time to our advantage. Here are some tips:

Touch base with past clients by sending a card or email. You may trigger their desire to start a new organizing project. Even if they don’t have work now, staying in touch will keep you in mind for the future.

Renew connections. When business is slow, it’s easy to panic and go on a networking whirlwind. Cultivating relationships is important, but make sure it’s focused. Set up meetings with your best referral partners. See if there’s anything you can do for them, and ask for help in return.

 

Reach out to your trusted colleagues. There is no shame in going through a slow period, and yet we have a hard time admitting it to others. Develop a small group of organizer “buddies” with whom you can share your business ups and downs. One of them may be able to use you for subcontracting work, or refer you to a client with whom they would rather not work.

Work on your marketing materials. Make sure your website and Facebook pages are up to date and speak to your target market. There may be other marketing avenues you’ve been exploring, but haven’t gotten to. Now’s the time to take action.

Do some pro-bono work. There are always people in our lives who could use some extra organizing help. Use the lull in your business to help someone out. It’s good karma.

Expand your knowledge base. Take a class, attend a conference, read a book. There is always something new to learn. You never know where your next big idea will come from!

Stay positive. When we learn to expect lulls in business, they don’t seem so disastrous. Use the down time to focus on filling your client pipeline, keep in touch with your clients, and do the all-important business planning that can get overlooked when you’re busy.