OMG Your Process Takes Forever!

June 15, 2017

First and foremost, this is not a “Top Ten” list of ways to cut down time and increase profits. There are plenty of examples of that online. Check these out. The main issue with these lists is that they usually only focus on one productivity style.

See Also: Personalizing Your Productivity

Instead, let’s focus on how a team of people, with a varying range of productivity styles, can collaborate efficiently without sacrificing quality.

The Time Suck

The Time SuckSometimes it takes longer than expected to get something done, be it an email thread that goes on forever without an end in sight, or even a report that needs to be pulled together from a number of sources. Both are time sucks, eating away time and money. As a team, it’s important to identify these time sucks and come up with a solution.

If an email thread gets too long, call the person/people included on the email. If you work in the same office, get up and walk over to their desk. A five-minute conversation will get you to a resolution/decision much faster than the back and forth of an email. If it’s a report eating up your time, look at ways of automating it. Instead of you and your team pulling numbers from multiple places on a regular basis, see if you can have the data sent to you in the form of an Excel sheet, and then have a master Excel sheet built that pulls all the data together into one complete report.

Time sucks, suck. Eliminating them frees you up to focus on the things that matter most. Identify them early and find a way around them or to cut them down.

See also: Focus Pocus

The Overgrown Processes

The Overgrown ProcessesMost organizations have processes in place so tasks are done in the right order, at the right time, by the right people. Sounds like a great way to avoid a time suck right? If you said yes, you’re absolutely correct! However, even the best designed process can get overgrown with unnecessary steps, too many team members, or even rounds of approval. Here’s a quick example.

Our old process for creating emails started with a meeting that included the account executive, project manager, art director, copywriter, and the digital media specialist. Each person had an important role in the process, and the first meeting was to lay the groundwork for each email so that every angle was thought of and nothing was either passed over or discovered too late in the creative process.

These were great because everyone was sharing their thoughts and ideas and making sure the email that went out fit the client’s objectives. However, these were horrible because the meetings would last for almost two hours. After taking a step back, we realized that we could break this into a planning session and two meetings. The digital media specialist would put together the strategy of the email (who it was going to, the goal of the email, etc.), and then pitch that to the account executive. The strategy was tweaked by any insight from the account executive, and then taken to the creative team and project manager for another round of tweaking before the creative team began working. This cut a one- to two-hour meeting for five people down to a half-hour prep for one person, a fifteen-minute meeting for two people, and another fifteen-minute meeting for four people. If you’re quick at math, that’s a five- to ten-hour meeting cut to three hours. We did this throughout the entire email creation process, even eliminating redundant steps, streamlining our email creation process.

Over time, steps are added to loop people in, new tools get rolled into the mix, and the process evolves. Take the time to routinely audit your processes, trim down the fat, and ultimately save your company time and money.

Reinventing the Golden Years: Introducing Evergreen Wellness™

August 17, 2016

Normally we here at Marketing In Color help our clients with their respective marketing needs. But for the last year we’ve been engaged in a unique opportunity that has gone far beyond that – we’ve created an entire company from the ground up! The venture is called Evergreen Wellness and here’s our elevator speech:

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Evergreen Wellness is a resource for helping people 55+ enjoy happier, healthier lives by promoting a holistic approach to wellness. We host entertaining live events along with an informative website, where people have fun learning how to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Our elevator speech was one of countless tasks required of a startup. We also came up with the company name, logo, positioning, and too many marketing materials to count. Not to mention the website.

evergreen-wellness-marketing-materials

MyEvergreenWellness.com

Because Evergreen Wellness is a resource, a huge part of our offerings is the information found on our website. Our video production team was up for the challenge, creating more than 100 videos on everything from how to get a good night’s sleep to how to choose the bike that’s right for you. Our editorial team went to work researching and writing articles on topics ranging from the health benefits of laughter to a guide to dehydration. And this is just the beginning. We’ll continue to fill MyEvergreenWellness.com with fresh content every day. Our goal is to be a steady resource for information, inspiration, and action!

evergreen-wellness-website

Our Inaugural Event: “The Power of My”

The other main offering of Evergreen Wellness is live events, and we all donned our event planning hats to pull off a hugely successful inaugural event in The Villages®, Florida. (In fact, The Villages is serving as our launching ground for Evergreen Wellness, as it’s one of the largest and most successful retirement communities in the U.S.! We are partnering with The Villages® Health, a world-class, patient-centered health care system located in The Villages.) Themed around helping older adults take charge of their own health, “The Power of My” event featured a keynote speech from Dr. Bob Laskowski, a nationally recognized leader in health care transformation; a fashion show of sun-protective clothing, and workout tips from fitness experts. Check out the highlights below!

 

 

The Best Is Yet to Come

This phrase is how we encourage older adults to reimagine their golden years, and we believe the best is yet to come for Evergreen Wellness, too! As we continue on this amazing journey, we are thrilled to bring to life such a helpful resource that’s rewarding on so many levels. There’s sure to be much more news in store for Evergreen Wellness, so we’ll keep you posted. 

 

The No. 1 Rule in Creating a Successful Company Culture

September 11, 2015

When asked to write a blog on company culture, I thought, “Well, that should be easy!” After all, I’ve been working for well over 25 years, so I’ve had my fair share of experience.

But to get some inspiration, I decided to do a quick Google search for the phrase “company culture” and returned a result of 279,000,000 entries! Wowza! You mean to tell me that many people have something to say about company culture? Or is it that that many people think they know what to say about it?

All I can say is that company culture begins at the top.

Period.

Company Culture Begins with Trust

I’ve been blessed to work with both good and bad bosses. (Yes, I said blessed with “bad” bosses; how else would I know someone was good?)! But, I don’t credit or fault them when it came to the company’s overall values and principles. The company’s philosophy was established, or in some cases not established well, at the top. My bosses were just following the philosophy shared with them by the Big Kahuna. The head honcho. That’s where it begins.

What I’ve learned at Marketing in Color is that the number one priority to a successful company and its culture is trust. If the leaders place trust in their employees, employees will place trust in their leaders. With trust comes confidence. With confidence comes satisfaction. With satisfaction comes a job well done.

Self-Confidence

Trust also allows co-workers to work freely without the fear of backlash. What I mean is that you don’t have to worry about staff competing against each other. At Marketing In Color, it is quite refreshing to be in an environment where you don’t have to be concerned about your cube neighbor wanting to stab you in the back to make themselves look better in the boss’ eyes. That just doesn’t happen. Everyone trusts each other to do their job. I’m not saying it’s all peachy-keen, hunky-dory every day, but because we trust each other’s expertise those days are definitely minute.

Trust Creates Confidence

Which leads me to my last point.

Create The Kind of Workplace and Work culture
Earlier I mentioned how trust breeds confidence. Well, confidence breeds, among many things, happiness. By having trust in your co-workers you create a happy and in turn a productive work environment. Your company’s culture should result in a place where someone wants to be every day. If you have a culture where someone dreads getting out of bed in the morning you need to fix that.

At Marketing In Color, I can honestly say it’s a happy place to be. In fact, I have never worked in a company where I’ve been able to laugh every day. Even on my worst days, I’ve been able to laugh. And I mean really laugh — a real, good, deep-down, belly laugh with tears rolling down my cheeks.

See also: Fun in the Workplace

And, we definitely find time to have fun. Fun at work? How can this be? Because of trust! If staff was not trusted to do their job, how could a leader trust them enough to allow for a random game of Nerf tic-tac-toe and still expect a deadline to be met? We also find time to have monthly staff outings, which is really a team building exercise masked as fun.

So if you are looking to create a successful company culture – or better the culture in which you currently work – it starts with trust. Trust yourself and then you can start to trust others. Throw in some team building exercises and Nerf wars, and you’ll be happy with the end result.

I promise.

Life: Work, Relax, and Repeat

September 8, 2015

“A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.”
Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

 Welcome to my first blog writing experiment since coming on as a full-time team member for Marketing In Color. When I was thinking about possible angles for this initial entry, I found I was quite perplexed on where to begin. Then I thought about one of the things that has stuck with me since beginning at MIC. I’ve spent time observing my coworkers, and am impressed by how diligently each of them is able to see projects through to produce amazing results. Working away like happy little bees, they manage multiple tasks for numerous clients, while writing and managing blogs, and they accomplish all of these with smiles and cheer. I’m quickly able to draw comparisons with them to my wife, who is a creative and an educator. She loves what she does, and as such goes to great lengths to do everything she can to see that each class or project culminates with the best possible outcomes. She is a complete powerhouse and someone to reckon with. If I could fault her for anything, it would be that I’m not sure she knows how to relax.

See Also: Fun in the Workplace – How Fun Equals Profits and Company Culture: Create Your Own Cult

Taking a breather

Taking a breatherMany of us are so often married to our work that it becomes necessary to be reminded to step back in order to recharge and regain a sense of balance. Those surrounding us can do a great deal in helping motivate us to get out and have some ‘me’ time. That could mean simply going for a run, a long bike ride, or a mid-day yoga session. Short weekend getaways, or trips to see family and friends can also do much to rejuvenate the mind. Personally, I like nothing more than relaxing under an umbrella on a lazy Sunday morning at the beach, my wife enjoying the sun beside me, and our kids playing nearby. For me it is a perfect way to decompress and something that happens far too infrequently.

See Also: Bicycling: This is How I Unstress

Are you doodling?

Are you doodlingFrom creative brainstorming and project scheduling, to producing website layouts, analyzing marketing trends or writing copy, many of us are familiar with the feeling of our jobs taking over our lives. We need to remember that within the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives and careers, it’s important to take time to recharge our batteries. In a sense we need to remind ourselves to go do the things we love. Creatives need to be creating, or at least doodling, free writing or experimenting with new software or techniques. Making free time for creative inspiration will allow you to expand the skills and mindset you bring to work on a daily basis, and keep your batteries recharged to get through those projects that are more tedious or just plain draining.

Recharge your batteries

Recharge your batteriesSo much of our time is dominated by what we have to do, that it becomes extremely important to take those timeouts for things that will rejuvenate us. Some of these things are simple, others take a bit more effort to make happen. But ultimately it doesn’t really matter what it is, if you haven’t done it for a while, you probably need to. So MAKE the time to go to a movie, or go kick a soccer ball. Read a comic book, draw or paint. Weren’t you wanting to try that kickboxing class? Perhaps take your guy or gal out for a romantic dinner and dancing. Or maybe a night of drunken debauchery is in order. Whatever the case, we all deserve and owe it to ourselves to make time to relax and for the things that can keep us sane, grounded and productive.

Best Life Lesson Ever

April 30, 2015

One of the very first lifelong lessons I learned was while attending college at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, in my Journalism 110 class. That was back in 1983 and to this day it has stuck with me. So much so that I often share this lesson with others whenever I hear them start out a question by saying, “I have a stupid question . . . “

Best Life Lesson Ever - In-Text Images AI’m sure when my journalism professor, Ken Atwell, shared his tidbit of wisdom during a session on how to write the lead to a news story, he never expected it to have such an impact on my life. The lesson is really the most simple of things and yet most people don’t realize its value.

Without this lesson, I would not be as knowledgeable as I am in many areas, and certainly would not be where I am today.

So, are you anxious to find out what it is that I have lived by for the past 32 years? Are you ready to be blown away? Here it is. . .

No question is stupid. It’s better to be a fool for a minute than to be a fool for life.

That’s it! Think about it! Read it again.

No question is stupid. It’s better to be a fool for a minute than to be a fool for life.

How else do you learn other than by asking a question?

Some might call it inquisitive. Some might call it nosy. I call it not being a fool.

See Also: Get Your Learn On!

Stupid Question? Maybe Not

Best Life Lesson Ever - In-Text ImagesNow, I’ll admit there have been times when I’ve been asked questions that could be considered stupid, like the time a co-worker asked why the document she printed was in black and white when it was in color on her computer monitor. But really, the question wasn’t stupid. She didn’t know the answer, so to her the question was valid. Yes, we laughed after I gave her the answer and, yes, she was a fool for a minute, but how else would she have known that the reason why she couldn’t get a color printout was that she was printing to a black and white printer? If she didn’t ask the question at the time, she may not know to this day why the words in red on her monitor wouldn’t print in red.

So, the next time you are in a situation where you are hesitant to ask for clarification on something for fear you may appear unintelligent, just ask a darn question. Who cares if people think you are fool? At least you’ll know the answer. And, I’ll bet others in the room will be happy you asked! Just don’t start out the question by saying, “I have a stupid question . . .?” Instead, simply say, “I have a question . . . ?” And, if a co-worker or friend chuckles while indicating your question is stupid, I guarantee you at some point in their lives they were a fool for a minute, and probably even a little longer.

If it takes time for you to muster up the courage to ask a question, heck, there is always Google.

See Also: How To Become More Resourceful – A Lesson by Felix the Cat 

8 Tips to Being a Great Project Manager

April 6, 2015

Every project manager has his or her own styleEvery project manager has his or her own style to being efficient at their job. Some embrace an agile approach, while others lean more toward a waterfall model. Some are effective by just going with the project flow and successfully getting it completed to the level that’s satisfactory to the company.

See Also: Characteristics of a Great Account Executive

In any methodology a project manager embracesIn any methodology a project manager embraces, it’s more important to have the right characteristics. In my five years of working in a project management role, here are eight traits that I feel are key for all project managers to exhibit.

  1. Know Your Team: Everyone has their quirks and ways of doing their job; get to know their style! By understanding their work flow and preferences, it will help you manage them and the project more effectively.
  2. Premeditate Problems: As you build your experience you’ll start to see where potential road blocks may occur. This could be a client going on a 2-week vacation, or seeing a potential conflict among team members. The more proactive you can be in minimizing these problems, the more successful the project.
  3. Command Authority Without Being a Commander: You’re in charge of a project’s success. This gives you natural authority to manage others, but don’t forget you’re working with people who have feelings. You may presume natural leadership; however, don’t get too big for your britches and start barking orders. Nine times out of 10 you’ll have an unhappy team and a headache of a project to manage.
  4. Be flexible: As we know it’s almost impossible for a project to run flawlessly, on schedule, and without a client disrupting the flow. As annoying as it may be, there will always be unplanned factors throughout the project’s duration. To date, I don’t think I’ve ever had a project not encounter a hiccup.
  5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help: Remember my first point about knowing your team? In times of chaos and deadlines, they’ll be your best ally when it comes to helping you out. For instance, perhaps your writer could reach out to the designer with the next step in the project. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance when you’re drowning or don’t know how to handle something. Everyone knows superheroes need help sometimes!
  6. Care About The Project: Not all projects are going to be complete creative overhauls for a company with a hip new product or service. Sometimes you’re going to get more mundane assignments, but that doesn’t mean you should put in less effort in managing the project to the best of your ability. Sometimes these are the projects with the bigger payoffs.
  7. Care About All Parties Involved: You may not love everyone with whom you work on a project, but you darn well should respect them and care about their opinions. I guarantee not every client, co-worker, or stakeholder will be easy to manage. You may have to bite your tongue and communicate professionally even when they don’t deserve it.
  8. Always Ask Questions: You’re running the show, and therefore you need to know every project detail and understand it. Chances are if it’s confusing to you it may be for others. Schedule 15-minute meetings if it will help clear the air between team members, or go back to the client if a direction is misunderstood. Better to be safe than sorry.
 

Any successful project manager knows the job requires more than keeping a project on deadline. It entails the communication of others, total investment in the project’s success, and a well deserved martini at the end of the day. Cheers!

See Also: There Really Is An “I” in Team

How To Become More Resourceful – A Lesson by Felix the Cat

March 24, 2015

Growing up in Colombia in the 80’s I was behind on the latest cartoon shows, so I watched some old stuff. One of my favorites was “Felix the Cat”. The show was about a cat who walked around getting into all sorts of jams. Felix always managed to overcome any challenge by using a magic bag he carried around. Ladders, tools, spaceships… Felix’s bag could turn itself into anything he needed. He defined resourcefulness about three decades before MacGyver was making explosives out of chewing gum and paperclips. I know what you’re thinking: “I need to watch the intro to Felix the Cat… in Spanish.” Well, my friend… you’re welcome!

See Also: Star Wars and Lightsabers… What’s That Gotta Do With Me?

What’s In Your Bag

Whats In Your BagSearch through job postings online and you’ll see that no one is looking for a one-trick pony. We can’t rely solely on what’s currently inside our bag as professionals. Acquiring new skills and staying up to date on changing trends is necessary to stay relevant within out industries. As an organization, there’s always room for growth in what we offer our clients. We all carry a bag with skills and knowledge, so why not turn our boring, old fanny pack into a bonafide, Felix-style magic bag?

Fill Your Bag

Fill Your BagAll my water bottles are Bobble. I love Bobbles because they have a filter built in, allowing me to fill my bottle from any faucet. The product is great as-is, but there’s always room for growth. I recently took a survey from Bobble, asking what changes, new options, and additional products I’d like to see Bobble produce. It’s great to see an already satisfying brand interested in finding out what other needs they can satisfy. Bobble is looking to add more to its bag! That should be the goal of every brand.

As individuals in the workplace, there are also ways to become more efficient and resourceful… to add to your bag. Here are three ideas:

For Crying Out Loud, Just Google It!

Just Google ItIs there a skill on which you need a tutorial? Need a piece of data? Need instructions? Need ideas for a project? Someone else has already asked and answered that question, recorded the tutorial, and created the online tool to make your job easier. This is hard to follow, so keep up: open your web browser, navigate to Google, type your inquiry, and voila! The interwebs are flooding your screen with answers. So, please… Google it first!

Find Training & Knowledge

Find TrainingSpeaking of the internet… there are many online courses offered online, many
of them free or extremely affordable. Lynda.com, for example offers unlimited video training sessions for a low monthly cost. Many professionals also offer their knowledge for free on YouTube. Community colleges offer affordable classes and training sessions on various subjects. How about reading a new book every 3 months? You’ll have added 4 books-worth of knowledge to your bag within a year. The training and knowledge to increase or complement your skills are out there. Use them.

Mentoring

MentoringChances are, someone at your workplace knows something that you don’t. Watch and learn, or simply ask them to teach you that new skill you’re seeking. Sure, some might say “no,” but they also might say “yes” and you’ll have found a mentor who’ll help you grow and add skills to your bag. Join a group on LinkedIn or Facebook where topics on your field of interest are constantly being discussed. Post your questions there. Learning from the experience of others is by far one of the most effective ways of becoming more resourceful.

See Also: Chaotic Inbox? There’s An App For That.

Use the Bag

Use the BagAs you add skills and knowledge to your bag, you’ll find yourself becoming a source of solutions and answers, instead of the one posing problems and asking questions all the time. Becoming the go-to person garners loyalty from those with whom you work, makes referrals more probable, can translate into promotions, raises, job-security, and career and industry growth.

Become resourceful. Fill your bag. Reap the benefits. And strut along like Felix, with the confidence that your bag has the solution you need.

Holiday Campaign Helps Boost Tampa Bay Region of Massage Envy Spa to #1 in the Country

December 17, 2014

The holiday season is in full swing, and the Massage Envy Spas in the Tampa Bay area have already seen an increase in sales that boosted them to the #1 sales position out of 52 regions across the United States— and that’s based only on November’s numbers.

“Thanks for all your hard work in boosting those sales!” Rachel Dunning, Assistant Regional Developer for Massage Envy Spa, wrote in an email to Marketing In Color.

Mothers Day campaignOn the heels of a successful Mother’s Day campaign, MIC worked diligently to develop a focused marketing campaign for the Massage Envy Spa clinics in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties to capitalize on that momentum. MIC works closely with its clients to develop and execute the creative strategy, as well as strategically negotiate media buys to reach the largest potential target audience within our clients’ budgets.

In September and October, the focus was on brand awareness— getting the Massage Envy Spa name out there through local TV spots and billboards. Then in November and December came the holiday gift sales campaign, which included a strategic balance of local TV and radio spots, billboards, and direct mail.

“I’m happy to report year over year, gift card sales for the month of November were up 51%!” Dunning said. “The average amount of money spent per gift card was up 16.1%!”

Last years holiday campaignAnd December isn’t over yet. The current campaign runs through Christmas. Last year’s holiday campaign helped boost gift card sales more than 24%, giving the region the highest year-over-year increase in gift card sales in the entire Massage Envy Spa national network.

We’re looking forward to seeing the final results of this year’s campaign!