All posts by Gunjan Saini

4 Ways to Up Your Social Media Marketing Game

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4 Ways to Up Your Social Media Marketing Game

Let’s get straight to it. Your company’s success relies on social media. Why? Because that’s where the consumers are. Today, there are about 3.78 billion social media users worldwide. And these users have high expectations. 

In today’s ever-changing and demanding world, consumers expect a lot from their social media feeds. They want to be informed, engaged, and entertained. They also want to learn something new from time to time. This puts a lot of pressure on businesses, particularly new ones trying to establish a social presence. 

Building an engaged and involved social media following takes time. Setting your social media goals is a true first step in establishing your social media game. With goals, you have a clear sense of direction for your company’s brand. Not to mention, you also have a plan for you and your team to get behind and work toward. 

Read on for four ways to give your social media marketing a boost. 

1. Post Consistently 

This is arguably the easiest but also the most fruitful way to gain more followers. Posting consistently creates a rhythm to your platform. It helps create a sense of reliability and continuity. Your users will start to expect content at certain times of the day, month, or year. 

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re managing a new restaurant’s social media. Users will be looking for food content at times they are hungry. If you post a special menu photo at 5 p.m. each day, that will resonate with users who want to try the restaurant for dinner. The next time users are looking for a place to eat, they may return to your social channels. 

However, if you only post that menu photo once and then don’t post anything for another week or two, users will quickly forget about your original post. Your audience won’t be engaged and will be unlikely to return to your feed. 

Maintaining a consistent social media schedule may seem daunting at first. Luckily, there are tools such as Hootsuite and Agorapulse that can alleviate the stress of scheduling social media posts. 

Struggling to create content in advance? Seek out special holidays and observances such as Freedom Day (February 1) or Retro Day (February 27) for some inspiration.

2. But Also Post Consciously 

Social media users are constantly sharing and reacting. Sharing and reacting to world events. Sharing and reacting to other posts. Sharing and reacting to a brand’s stances. It’s you and your company’s responsibility to stay up to date on what is happening both on and off social media. 

For example, June 2020 was a monumental month for the social world. The Black Lives Matter movement grew significantly and steadily due to social media. Businesses that reacted sensitively in the moment retained their loyal followers. On the other hand, companies that posted inappropriately worded content or ignored the movement altogether took a major hit. 

So, what does this mean for you? While there isn’t one right way to handle any situation, there are wrong ways. Be conscious of what is happening — even while you’re on vacation — and pivot your planned social tactics accordingly. You don’t necessarily need to be the very first company to react to something. However, you should create a strategy when major events surprise the social world.  

3. Be Flexible and Adaptable

Setting up a new social account or taking one over can be intimidating. What works one day may not work the next. However, think of social media as a world of opportunities. If a company is stuck in the past, it won’t be moving ahead. This opens up the door for newer ones to take up space in a crowded field. 

Consider this example. Just recently, Instagram announced it was no longer just a “photo-sharing app.” The platform will be focusing on video content and entertainment in the months to come. Why? It’s likely because the app is looking to compete with popular video platforms such as TikTok and YouTube.

This news could shock a lot of businesses, particularly those that focused solely on posting photos and copy. Instagram’s algorithm will make it harder for users to see these brands in their feeds. Therefore, companies need to adapt, and so do their social media feeds. By posting Instagram Stories, Reels, and IGTVs, for instance, businesses can better stay ahead of the game. 

4. Tailor Your Posts to the Platform 

What works on Instagram may not necessarily work on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, or LinkedIn. Users adapt their needs to where they are. So a cute cat photo on Instagram won’t really be appropriate for LinkedIn, for example. 

Getting to know your customer is part of tailoring your posts effectively. Keeping an eye on your social metrics can also help you determine what kinds of posts work best for your business. 

Let’s go back to the restaurant example. If a Facebook post introducing a new menu item doesn’t resonate, look at what the call to action is. Could you make it clearer to the audience that this item is “back by popular demand”? Could you say the item is “available only for a limited time”? Using these types of words could help. 

If you’re still not seeing the traction you want, try another platform. The same photo could work better on Instagram and garner more attention if that’s where your foodie audience is. 

These four tips aren’t the only ways to up your social media marketing game. They are, however, strategies you can start to implement today to meet your goals. Be aware, though, that it takes time. Just like your business wasn’t built overnight, neither will your social media presence be.

How to Use Appointment Planning to Secure Required Resources

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How to Use Appointment Planning to Secure Required Resources

When planning a meeting, setting the date and time is the easy part. The more difficult logistical challenge is making a list of everything else you need and checking it twice. Having the materials you need — or not — can make or break a meeting really quickly.

Once you’ve sent out appointment invitations to all of your guests, it’s time to iron out the nitty-gritty details. Different people will have intertwined responsibilities to keep track of. Room reservations, technology needs, even refreshments all need to be planned, prepared for, and executed. 

Sounds like a handful, doesn’t it? Now you can see why party planners get paid so handsomely! Fear not, using online appointment software can make sure you secure all the resources you need without breaking a sweat.

Set Deadlines for Confirmation

You often expect a guest to RSVP if they plan on attending an event. You should do that and more for attendees who also need to arrive to a work event with the required resources. They should have a deadline set before the gathering in question to report to you, or whoever is leading the event, that they are set to bring whatever they are responsible for.

Let’s say you’re planning a work conference that relies on Steven from accounting bringing a projector from home. Not only should he have an appointment reminder for the training itself, but he should have an additional one confirming that he will or already has brought the projector to work. This way you won’t have to stress until the moment it arrives, hoping that he and the projector show up on the same day. 

Secure Your Venue

Certain meetings and events require a venue that isn’t in your possession. In fact, you might not have even picked a site yet. You’ll need to set up some appointments to tour a couple of venues before you come to a decision

Once you’ve visited your locations of choice, you’ll only have so long to book them before someone else claims the dates you’re aiming for. Use your online appointment software to make sure you don’t miss the cut. Appointment reminders will help you stay on top of things.

Even if you own the venue in question, you might need to coordinate times with other parties who might want to use the space. A shared appointment schedule will ensure there are no double bookings when claiming conference rooms for meetings and more. 

Plan a Practice Run

Sometimes you won’t realize what you need until it’s already too late. This is a presenter’s and event planner’s worst nightmare. To prevent such an omission from spoiling your event, plan a practice run at least a day before the set date.

You can send a few attendees appointment reminders to attend your practice run so they can give you their perspective on how things went. This can include how well the chosen technology performed its function or whether the seating arrangement could use some rethinking. 

A simple meeting will likely only need a test run of the technology needed to direct the agenda. Larger events such as full-blown conferences might require more run-through, as there will doubtless be more moving parts. Be sure to take these varying time commitments into consideration when setting these appointments. 

Get Your Supplies Delivered

Running out of notepads for employees to take notes during a training session or copy paper to print out new manuals? You’ll need to schedule an order from your office supply vendor. You can use appointment planning to make sure you’re always stocked up no matter what’s on your calendar.

Most, if not all, retail businesses offer some sort of pick-up or delivery system. Using appointment planning, you can set recurring dates for supplies to be shipped. A monthly delivery can be easily planned and organized, and you’ll never have to worry about being short of materials again. 

Tune Up Your Systems

Not all of your required resources are tangible, so to speak. Take Wi-Fi, for example. Your entire business likely relies on a stable internet connection to function. So, too, will many of your meetings. You’ll want to be assured that your Wi-Fi and any other needed resource are in working order when your event rolls around.

If your infrastructure operations are ever in doubt, set an appointment with a professional who can give your system a check-up. You won’t always need someone to come in and check your Wi-Fi connection before a big meeting, but if you’ve been experiencing problems recently, it certainly wouldn’t hurt. 

Organize Your Staffing

Last but certainly not least is your staffing. For many events, you’ll need some bodies to help set everything up. Whether this is to help unload a trailer full of folding chairs or to clean up a venue after the meeting has adjourned, you need to get everyone’s watches synchronized.

Use online appointment software to coordinate your manpower. You can dictate when and where you want everyone to be with a simple shared schedule. With confirmation, you won’t have to worry about putting together your set-up and clean-up crews while you’re elbows deep in the event at hand.

Take a deep breath and get ready to nail down all the resources you need for your next meeting or event. Seeing it show up on your schedule will no longer bring a sense of dread now that you’ve used appointment planning to ensure there’s nothing left but smooth sailing. 

How to Show Up to Video Meetings on Time and on Point

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How to Show Up to Video Meetings on Time and on Point

It happens to the best of us. It’s 10:20 a.m., and you realize you forgot that the morning video meeting started at 10. After scrambling onto the call and making a quick apology, you struggle to catch up with the rest of the team. 

Luckily, there are several tools and strategies to prevent these videoconferencing snafus. The tips below will help you knock every video meeting out of the park. 

Schedule Some Breathing Room 

Whether you’re the meeting planner or just an attendee, plan for video meetings to take longer than they are scheduled for. Block out an additional 10 minutes on either side of the allotted time to give yourself some leeway. That way, if a call runs long, you’re less likely to be late to the next one. If the meeting runs short, you’ll have extra time to take a break, grab some water, or answer emails.

Adding at least a 10-minute buffer around meetings also helps to ensure that you have time to wrap things up before your next commitment. If you need to follow up individually with a member of the team after the group meeting ends, you’ll have time to do so without throwing off the whole day’s schedule. 

Use the Right Meeting Software

Enlist technology to keep you on time and in the know. While some people prefer written calendars, digital calendars excel in making sure that nothing slips through the cracks. The straightforward design and layout of these tools make them incredibly user-friendly. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a paper planner that can send you pop-up notifications of your upcoming commitments! 

When you use scheduling software, you can set it to give you a 10-minute reminder before any scheduled video meeting. This way, you have enough time to get set up, settle in, and resolve any technological problems that may arise. In today’s Zoom world, bad Wi-Fi is no longer a valid excuse for missing a meeting. 

Some scheduling software, like Calendar, allows you to sync calendars from Google and Outlook together. You can combine important personal, work, and family schedules into one main calendar. This way, you never accidentally set up a phone call with a customer at the same time as a team meeting — or your daughter’s soccer game. Nothing gets overlooked when everything is synced together. 

Business scheduling apps also ensure that the calendar event has the link to the call, the meeting agenda, and everything else you need for the video meeting. There’s no more last-minute searching through old emails looking for the link. 

Be Prepared For Every Meeting

Being punctual is only one factor in excelling in online meetings. Being on point and making strong contributions are critical as well. 

Before any meeting, jot down at least two thoughts, ideas, or suggestions and two questions. These notes can focus on the nitty-gritty specific or be more big-picture. Your questions and comments don’t have to be ground-breaking; they just have to be relevant and helpful. When someone asks you, “Well, what do you think?” you’ll be ready. 

If the meeting centers on an ongoing project or issue, take a few minutes before the meeting to review relevant files and notes on the subject. You’ll re-familiarize yourself with the matters at hand and ensure you don’t get lost or caught off guard in the meeting. This is especially helpful if this is the first meeting about a project in weeks. 

If you are leading the meeting, be sure to have an agenda to follow and provide it to attendees beforehand. Attach it to your calendar invite along with the videoconferencing link so everyone will have it at the ready. 

While it is important to be flexible and allow other discussion topics to come up naturally, sticking to an agenda keeps the team on task. You also show yourself to be a capable leader who values your co-workers’ time. 

Create a Professional Setup

The last key element to making an impact in your company’s digital meetings is the space around you. 

When working from home, have a designated work space or desk that you intentionally leave clear of anything but the essentials: laptop, relevant documents, etc. This will help prevent clutter from distracting other attendees from you and your ideas. Be sure that the space behind you is neat and clean as well. 

If video meetings are commonplace in your work, consider upgrading your microphone and using high-quality headphones. If your connection is poor, increasing the internet speed or changing to a different provider is worthwhile. While small improvements, these updates will ensure that everyone can clearly and easily understand you. 

When it comes to time management and personal performance, video meetings can pose challenges. But with the right tools, strategies, and setup, you can ensure that you are a valuable part of any online meeting.

4 Bad Habits You May Have Developed During 2020 and How to Break Them

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4 Bad Habits You May Have Developed During 2020 and How to Break Them

It’s been a long year — nobody can deny that. You’ve spent entire months in your home doing the same tasks once reserved for the office, and your work ethic has suffered for it. 

Now your workplace may have opened its doors again, and you can finally return. But how many of the trappings of remote work are you taking with you? Or maybe you’ll still be toiling remotely for the foreseeable future. How can you get your work mojo back?

Whatever your current work situation, consider these four bad habits you may have developed during 2020 and how you can break them.

1. A Decreased Capacity for Self-Accountability

The unpredictability of 2020 may have caused your productivity to falter in ways you did not expect. Perhaps you had to set aside your spreadsheets to oversee your child’s online schooling, or the neighbor’s barking dog interrupted your concentration. Each remote day seemed to feel more like an independent challenge. Without the office environment to spur you forward, it became quite easy to lose sight of the importance of your work.

Instead of giving into the urge to slack off when you are struggling, keep yourself accountable by scheduling your day in advance. Checking off each item on your to-do list will give you a visible sense of accomplishment. Follow up the completion of particularly difficult tasks with a reward. Doing your monthly reporting will surely be much more fulfilling with a piece of chocolate waiting at the end!

If this tactic isn’t for you, there are other productive habits you can cultivate to foster self-accountability. You may find that prioritizing “deep work” or batching your tasks will help increase your productivity and keep you focused.

2. An Inconsistent Sleep Schedule

When you’re following the same routine day in and day out, the escape provided by sleep can become incredibly enticing. You’d hardly be the only remote worker to take an unscheduled nap! At the same time, the activities that take a backseat during the workday (spending time with family, watching TV, etc.) fill your evenings. The time spent on these activities adds up, and you may have found yourself shifting your sleep schedule to accommodate them.

While we’ve all been there, it is important to understand just how essential consistent sleep is for your daily energy levels. A bad night’s rest can translate to an unproductive day. 

So the next time an 8 a.m. start to your workday looms, ensure you’re ready for it by scheduling eight hours of shut-eye. Although you may have to sacrifice that second episode of “Schitt’s Creek,” establishing a regular sleep schedule will pay dividends. A nightly routine can improve your REM sleep quality and give you reliable energy for the day ahead.

3. Blurred Work-Life Boundaries

After a year of working remotely, an oversized T-shirt and pair of sweatpants may be your definition of “business casual.” Because of the home comforts you’ve likely become accustomed to, it can be hard to readjust to the workplace dress code. But whether you’re going into the office or just to the spare bedroom, dressing for success can boost your mental outlook for the day.

Picture wearing a cozy set of pajamas in the conference room versus slacks and a tasteful jacket. The pajamas would provide more comfort, but the business wear would be more appropriate (and help bolster your confidence!). This is just one example of how workspaces and living spaces can and should be separated in a post-pandemic world.

Another important consideration is your immediate environment. Make it easier for your brain to distinguish work from play by establishing a desk space that is conducive to concentrating on work responsibilities. Place your go-to reference works on a desktop book rack, or tack up some motivating decor. Even habitually placing your coffee in the same spot each morning can get you in a work frame of mind. Once your day ends, leave your duties at your desk, whether you’re already at home or heading back there.

4. Online Procrastination

During a period of remote work, you are usually expected to be on your computer for most of the day. This is easy enough, but with that constant screen time comes a gateway to the ultimate enemy: online procrastination

Why not take a moment in between tasks to check your Instagram feed or scroll through Amazon? It’ll only take a second, right? One second can quickly become five minutes, and five minutes can become 10. How can you avoid falling into that hole?

If you have been using a schedule to improve your self-accountability, set aside specific time slots for online breaks. This will assure you of their availability and keep your focus uninterrupted during work time. Nothing feels better than taking a well-deserved break, and your work quality will improve in return.

Although some of the workplace changes wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic may prove to be temporary, others are likely here to stay. Many companies, for example, have given their workers the opportunity to work remotely whenever it suits them. Yet repetitive days at home have brought old and new work habits to the forefront of our minds. 

While some of these habits are good (no commute equals fewer carbon emissions, for example), others are less so. Fortunately, with the right tools and mindset, these bad habits can be remedied. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we are all capable of rising above bad habits for our own good.

How to Make Your Work Meetings Work for You

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How to Make Your Work Meetings Work for You

You know all about the workday marathon. You finish with one work meeting, and then you have to sprint over to the next meeting. You may even end the first meeting early just to get to the second one on time. The situation certainly isn’t ideal. 

In fact, this kind of terrible time management can cause all kinds of problems. It leaves too little room for error and causes unnecessary stress.

How you schedule your meetings will determine how successfully you’re using your time. If you schedule back-to-back meetings, you’re making your life harder than it needs to be. Thankfully, there are things you can do to change this. The following tips will help you alter your meeting habits for the better. 

Add Buffer Time Between Meetings

The first thing you should do to prevent work meeting overlap is to add buffer time to your schedule. A few minutes between meetings will give you some time to catch your breath after you dash from one to another.

Sitting through the end of a meeting knowing you’re going to be late for the next one is incredibly stressful. You’re more likely to be distracted, and you may even miss important information. Plus, a presenter can tell when you’re itching to leave.

Then there are the concerns about the second meeting. Tardiness is often seen as inconsiderate. If it’s a meeting with the boss, you certainly don’t want to look bad.

It’s much better to be safe than sorry. Build-in buffer time even if you don’t think you need it. 

Plan for Longer Work Meetings

Don’t be afraid to schedule a bit more time than you actually need when organizing a meeting. Take a training meeting, for example. You can’t predict exactly how many questions employees and new hires will have during the event in question. It’s best to get all questions answered rather than cut the discussion short. 

To be clear, this should be separate from adding buffer time. Buffer time gives you what you need to get to and from appointments. Planning for longer meetings also helps other employees manage their schedules. 

Basically, this means scheduling an hour and a half for a meeting, even if you think it’ll take an hour. After that 90 minute block, you’ll still want an additional buffer of 10 minutes. After all, nature could be calling by then. 

Evaluate Your Meeting Locations

Your work meetings’ locations have as much of an impact as when they’re scheduled. For example, you might need to take a long-time client or a group of investors to lunch one day. You’ll need a lot more buffer time if you have another meeting scheduled back at the office afterward. 

This won’t be as much of an issue if most of your meetings are online. However, you’ll still need to keep location in mind. Small relocations, like going from the conference room to your office to set up a Zoom call, can still take time. After all, technology can be unpredictable, and you might need the extra time to fix your mic or hunt down a presentation. 

Prepare Meeting Agendas in Advance

Just as important as planning the times of your meetings is planning their content. You’ll find that meetings run a lot more smoothly when there’s an agenda to follow. Use your online calendar to set a reminder to make an agenda before every planned meeting.

If you’re attending a meeting rather than leading it, ask the host for an agenda. This might prompt them to make one if they haven’t already. This small request can help ensure that meetings go efficiently, even when you’re not in control. 

Keep the Number of Meetings to a Minimum

Did you know that the average employee is wasting 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings? Think of all the things you and your team could accomplish with those lost hours. How can you reclaim that time? By identifying and cutting out unnecessary meetings.

Deciding which meetings to keep can be a challenge. Start by asking yourself a series of questions. Can everything you plan to say in this meeting be written in an email? Are these meetings actually just a way to micromanage others? After some introspection, you should be able to clear your calendar of at least a few meetings. 

Internal communication platforms should keep the need for formal meetings to a minimum. Individual questions can be sent through direct messages. Plus, project management software allows you to give plenty of instructions for specific tasks. 

Avoid Last-Second Meetings

Sometimes a last-minute meeting pops up, and you’ve got no choice but to drop everything and go. However, when you can avoid last-second meetings, you should. Nothing will clog up your schedule more than an unexpected meeting. Trying to squeeze it in between your previously scheduled commitments is just asking for trouble.

If someone requests a meeting with you for the same day, take a look at your calendar before saying yes. Look for a clear opening in your schedule. If there isn’t time for a couple of days, see if that time frame would work for the other person. Very rarely will you actually have to fit in a last-second meeting. It’s always easier to negotiate a meeting time than to reschedule existing commitments. 

Schedule Blocks of Time Without Meetings

If meetings start to overwhelm you, schedule some times where you won’t allow meetings to take place. This will ensure that you can get some actual work done. If you know when you’re most productive, you can schedule this time accordingly. For example, some people do their best work early in the morning. If that describes you, it’s best to block off that time for your own work.

Some people prefer to have all their meetings on one day. Then they have the rest of their week for other work. Others like to keep their meetings spread apart so that they never run too closely together. Whatever your preference, make sure to designate some time away from the meeting room when you can. 

Meetings are an important aspect of any business, but they can take over your professional life if you let them. Finding the right approach to organizing your meetings will keep you from becoming stressed. Open up your calendar now and start making the adjustments you need for smooth sailing at work. 

It May Be Summertime, but the Living Ain’t Necessarily Easier

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It May Be Summertime, But the Living Ain't Necessarily Easier

In reality, it’s mostly only teachers and students who get to take the entire summer off. Even so, the summer months are heavily associated with vacations, beach days, and other fun extracurricular activities. Warmer weather certainly enables a lot more outdoor fun than the other months of the year.

Don’t let all the fun in the sun go to your head, though. There’s still work to be done.

It can be all too easy for business owners to adopt a summer vacation mindset and allow things to slide a bit. When you feel the heat slowing you down, it’s important to set appointments — with yourself — to stay productive. Below are five examples of the types of appointments you should set to keep up your forward momentum.

1. Weekly Planning Sessions

Summer often arrives coupled with a “go with the flow” attitude. While this can be an attractive way to spend your days, a sustained lack of structure often leads to decreased productivity. To keep yourself — and your business — on track, schedule weekly planning meetings for yourself.

Weekends might be an ideal time to hold these personal planning sessions for anyone who operates on a regular 9-to-5 schedule. Whatever time slot you select is less important than keeping that appointment each week. If something does come up, reschedule this time immediately.

When the time for your planning session arrives, open your calendar and plot out the next seven days. Are there any events you need to prepare for? Block out time to do so. Is there a milestone you need to reach in pursuit of a summer goal? Write down your task completion percentage. Use this time to organize your time and efforts to pursue a productive week.

Make your plans as specific as possible. Vague notes are more easily overlooked. Plenty of blank spaces in your calendar may unintentionally provide room for idleness. The more you can plan out your work hours, the better.

2. Self-Care Appointments

Scroll through enough summer vacation photos on social media, and you may begin to feel left out. Burnout and idleness are common during the summer months as workers dream about the beach and count the days until the next weekend. One way to avoid such burnout is to regularly schedule smaller blocks of time for yourself.

Self-care might sound counterintuitive when talking about productivity, but it’s been shown to be an effective long-term play. Approaching your personal time by setting appointments ensures that you’re making time for yourself and that you do so responsibly.

Two dangers to be aware of are taking too much personal time or not taking enough. Scheduling a spa day or a movie night will give you quality time to unwind without taking it too far. By being well-rested and in good spirits, your energy and focus during work hours will be increased.

3. Personal Budgeting Meetings

Over half of the U.S. population takes their spending up a notch during the summer months. Oftentimes this is because summer is strongly associated with fun and new experiences. Extra trips and excursions are planned and taken. If you’re not keeping a personal budget, you run the risk of overspending.

What does budgeting have to do with productivity? As it turns out, a lot.

Money problems are one of life’s biggest stressors. The realization that you’ve spent more than you should have can cause anxiety, which in turn reduces your productivity and overall well-being. You might feel inclined to counterbalance stress by working more hours, but that doesn’t always equate to more effective work. This tactic is often self-defeating.

You may not need to set personal budgeting appointments as often as you do for weekly planning. Once a month might suffice unless you have to accommodate a major event such as a summer wedding or an unexpected medical bill. Document your expenses, necessary or not, and do your best to stay within that budget for the rest of the month.

4. Review Your Metrics

Let’s get down to business. When was the last time you checked your business metrics? These will be one of the greatest indicators of overall productivity this summer. Any slump will be directly reflected in your numbers. This is especially true if you’re a small business owner or operating a startup where even the slightest action can have a big impact.

Set a recurring appointment with yourself to review your business metrics. Doing so will ensure you actually glance at them from time to time. Here are a few metrics you should consider:

  • Response time: How quickly are you following up with a prospective customer?
  • Website traffic: How many customers are using your website in a given time period?
  • Social media followers and engagement: What’s the number of customers supporting your business online and interacting with posts?
  • Cash flow: What’s your total revenue minus total expenditures?

These numbers and others are good indicators of how healthy your business is. A commitment to your personal productivity should cause these numbers to improve. As you look at data metrics, set goals and formulate plans that put your productivity to work instead of throwing ideas at the wall until something sticks. Make appointments with yourself to check progress.

5. Self Check-In

Some of us need constant reminders to keep productivity up. If you’re one of these people, feel free to set personal appointments as often as you see fit. This could even be a daily occurrence where you check in with yourself to gauge your progress that day.

Let’s say you’ve set a personal goal to make 20 cold calls a day to grow your startup business. A self check-in appointment at midday can help you get into gear if you’re falling behind on your quota. Regular self-check-ins will also hold you accountable for the different goals you set throughout the summer.

You definitely want to make time to enjoy summertime, but a small business owner can only afford to get so comfortable. The summer months may be pivotal for your business and your personal progress. Experiment with setting personal appointments to stay motivated so that you don’t let too many opportunities pass you by. 

6 Strategies for Encouraging Online Appointment-Making

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6 Strategies for Encouraging Online Appointment-Making

As hard as it might be to believe, not everyone has a smartphone — or wants one. You’ll even have some customers without reliable internet service. These customers will be the most difficult ones to transition to online appointment software when it’s implemented by your business.

Customers without good home internet are unlikely to hike to the local library to make their appointments. Customers without a smartphone aren’t going to buy one just because you have fancy new software. So how can businesses upgrade their systems and retain these customers instead of cutting them off?

All these people need is a little persuasion and some tender care from your business to move them online. Try out one of these six strategies to get all of your customers hooked into online appointment software:

1. Show and Tell

Customers who stay away from technology likely do so because they don’t understand it. Since they’re so comfortable booking appointments over the phone, why would they want to change a perfectly good system? If it’s not broken, they say, don’t fix it.

What these customers need is for someone to walk them through the steps of online appointment setting. Once they see how easy and convenient it is to book online, they won’t be as hesitant to make the switch. 

Before a customer leaves, have an employee set up their next appointment with them. Show them how to log in to your company website or customer portal. Take each step methodically so customers have a chance to ask any questions they have about the process. 

2. Reach Them Where You Can

While the customers you are trying to reach might not be online, there are other ways you can reach them to get them there. Your usual strategies for getting customers to book online appointments via social media and email will need to be replaced with something more old school.

Start by addressing customers face-to-face. Talk to them on-site about switching to online booking and address their problems then and there. For some customers, this might not just be your best opportunity, but your only one. 

For your more immovable customers, you can use snail mail with printed links to your booking website to pique their curiosity. Also change up your voicemail message to include information about online booking. That way, customers who always call in might get the hint that online booking is the better choice. 

3. Favor the Techy

Now, this tip in no way suggests that you discriminate against your tech-averse clientele. However, offering small rewards to those who book online will incentivize the rest of your customers to follow suit. 

For starters, make it known that the first appointment customers book online comes with a special discount, perhaps even as much as 50%. The first online booking is the hardest one to get, so it’s worth the significant price slash in order to transition more customers in the long run.

Online bookings can also have more lenient cancellation policies, better rewards programs, or more options when selecting time slots. Choose one or multiple benefits like these, and you’ll have no problem getting customers to move to your online platform. 

4. Develop a Relationship

From personal experience, you’ll probably agree that it’s much easier to convince someone to try something new if you have a long-standing relationship with them. Wouldn’t you rather try a new electronic device recommended to you by a friend instead of being told why you should buy it by a salesman?

If you have a strong relationship with your regular customers, you’ll be able to more easily sway them to try online appointment booking. Since they trust you and your service, they’ll be more likely to oblige in order to continue doing business with you. New customers or those you can’t differentiate from the rest may well head over to a different business instead.

5. Partner With Other Businesses

You wouldn’t be a business owner if you didn’t do whatever it takes to attract and retain customers. Sometimes that means partnering with other businesses to leverage each other’s strengths. In this case, consider running a promotion with businesses that can get your customers plugged in.

Got customers who haven’t jumped on the smartphone train yet? Hook them up with a special deal with the cell phone store down the street. Use the promotion as a way to talk about how one of the many things customers can use a smartphone for is to book their appointments online.

You can also do this with internet service or any other customer need another business can fulfill. You’ll benefit by getting more customers looped into your online appointment system, and other companies will appreciate the business you send their way. 

6. Continue to Improve the Process

Customers need to be assured that your transition to online appointment software is a long-term commitment that’s worth buying into. To make certain that online booking is more than just a fad, look for ways to make continual improvements to the process.

Stay on top of your website’s loading speed so visitors don’t get discouraged. Review your site’s layout to make sure resources and booking pages are easy to find. Also ensure that your online system is compatible with every device your customers might use. You don’t want to deter Apple users because you’re only optimized for Android.

In all honesty, individuals who don’t adapt to the times are the ones who are really missing out. Make sure your customers aren’t among them by using online appointment software to create a better user experience for them inside and outside of your business. 

How Social Media Can Land You More Appointments

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How Social Media Can Land You More Appointments

With social media, the world is, quite literally, at our fingertips. With just a few taps, we can connect with friends, plan our next meal, or get inspired. 

While social media is entertaining, it can also be a powerful tool for business. If used with intention, social media can help you foster client engagement and even increase the number of appointment clients book with your business. Here’s how you can use your social media channels to help you land more appointments.

Post Consistently 

Today, having a social media presence for your business is non-negotiable. It’s also one of the most cost-effective marketing tactics around. Creating content and posting it regularly gets you in front of potential customers and builds trust. You can create standard posts, host a livestream, and add posts to stories that will live for 24 hours.

The problem is, posting engaging content can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have anything planned prior to sitting down to update your pages. Fortunately, this last-minute stress can be eliminated through the use of a social media calendar. By leveraging a social media calendar, you can create relevant content ahead of time and schedule posts all year long, holidays included.

A social media calendar will enable you to post consistently and build credibility for your brand. Not only that, but you’ll make your own life easier and will have more time to focus on your clients.  

Engage With Your Clients 

Sharing photos on your social media stories can help boost engagement, and you can make those stories interactive. With many social media stories, you can include polls for your followers to participate in. Instagram, for example, allows you to include polls, quizzes, and Q&A forms. These features offer a great way to get feedback from clients or answer any questions they have about their appointments. 

Many social platforms want you to go beyond the regular photo posts, and you should use this to your advantage. Your social media content needs to be engaging and memorable. One way to achieve this is by posting video content on your social pages. Try a how-to video, an animation, or even an interview with a thought leader from your industry. And when potential clients see videos of the services your business offers, they will be more likely to book with you. 

With appointment-based businesses, cancellations are inevitable. If you have a last-minute opening, social media is good for that, too. Announce any available time slots on social media so they can still be used productively.

Brag About Your Business

Don’t be shy when it comes to sharing your successes on social media. People want to have confidence that they’re making the right choice when it comes to spending their money and precious hours. So that means it’s time to boast and be bragged on. 

Most consumers make their purchasing decisions based on the reviews they read and the recommendations they hear from people in their circle. Including reviews and testimonials from past clients on your social pages can help future ones feel more secure in their decision to choose you over competitors. 

You can also share photos and videos of your satisfied clients. This will help your future customers imagine themselves in your current fans’ shoes. Including real clients will bring a touch of humanity and emotion to your brand. This makes it easier for clients, old and new, to support your business. It will remind them that they’re interacting with real people and not a robot that posts every day at noon. 

Make Booking Appointments Easy for You and the Client

Let’s face it, with technology, we’ve been spoiled. With just a couple taps, we can have whatever we want (almost) whenever we want it. When clients are ready to book an appointment after scrolling through your pages, they want to schedule theirs quickly.

You can share links to your website to book appointments or include a booking button on your social media pages. Adding this button is a snap, and you can even connect it to an automated program that moves the request along to staff for approval. This functionality will help you strike while the iron is hot, turning audience interest in your social content into more appointments in your (digital) schedule book. 

When you plan your next campaign to bring in more appointment bookings, don’t forget about social media. You can interact with your clients and answer their burning questions. You can provide updates in real time. And you can share the stories of your current clients and bring your brand to life.

Social media is a powerful business tool, and it’s only growing. If you plan your content with intention, you can use social media as an inexpensive marketing tool to land your business even more appointments.

Not an April Fool’s Joke: These Are Real Appointment Statistics You Need to Know

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Not an April Fool’s Joke: These Are Real Appointment Statistics You Need to Know

The numbers don’t lie: online appointment software will do wonders for your business. In this article, we’ll outline some of the most attention-grabbing statistics about the use of online appointment software by businesses. 

As you’ll soon find out, online appointment software can boost customer retention, save your business money, and more. There’s really no reason to not use online booking for your appointment-based business. One of these statistics is bound to convince you of the need to get started.

Businesses With Online Booking Are Winning

Online booking is rapidly becoming a necessity. In an Accenture survey of healthcare consumers, 68% of respondents said they prefer a provider that allows appointments to be made, changed, and canceled online. That means if your business doesn’t utilize online appointment software, you’re probably losing customers to the competition. 

That number will only climb as online appointment software becomes the norm for businesses. So what are you waiting for? Being among the early implementers of online booking will build a loyal customer base before the competition knows what hit them. You’ll also have more time to perfect your online booking system so that, by the time the technology is omnipresent, you can rely on your smooth experience as a competitive advantage.

Nearly Half of Appointments Are Booked After Hours

If customers can only book appointments during business hours, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. A social media survey of salon owners showed that 46% of their appointments were booked before salons were open or after they closed for the day. That’s nearly half of the customers these businesses have on their schedules!

If you’re looking to fill all your appointment slots, online booking software is the solution you need. Customers may not be thinking about the appointment they want or need to make during operating hours. Allowing them to book at their convenience opens the door for so many more individuals. 

No-Show Rates Freefall With Online Booking

Due to its many benefits and features, online appointment software is proven to slash your no-show rates immediately after implementation. Research on several medical centers and practices saw no-show rates drop by as much as 42% after adding web-based booking portals to their websites. No-shows are costly and inefficient, and getting rid of them is a high priority for all appointment-based businesses.

For many customers, the convenience of being able to book appointments online and change them as needed encourages them to hold true to their commitments. Many other customers make appointments in person or over the phone because they feel pressured to do so. That pressure is eliminated when customers can make appointments on their own terms at any time or in any place. 

Most Customers Book on Mobile Devices

Market research has found that 82% of clients schedule appointments on their mobile devices as opposed to other platforms. As beautiful as your website might look on a desktop, you need to optimize your online booking experience for mobile users. 

To improve your mobile experience, start with the customer journey. Booking an appointment on a mobile device should be easy; otherwise, customers will get discouraged and log off. Make selections easy to find and the booking process as straightforward as possible. Loading times for your website also need to be adequate to avoid high bounce rates resulting from impatient customers. 

Millennials Are the Customer Segment Most Likely to Book Online

Of all the nation’s demographics, Millennials are responsible for a quarter of appointments booked online. This isn’t surprising, given this generation’s combination of tech savviness and needs that can be filled by appointments. The quick acceptance of online booking software by the Millennial generation suggests the trend will likely be popular with younger customers, too. Expect Gen Zers to slide in right beside Millennials as they begin booking their own appointments. 

Even if Millennials aren’t your primary age segment, they’re a great place to start when implementing online appointment software initially. You’ll be able to work out the kinks of a new system with an eager subset of your customer base. As Millennials continue to book appointments online, other customers will join in until you’re able to make online scheduling your only — or at least foremost — method of booking. 

Companies That Use Data Get a Leg Up

One of the greatest benefits of online appointment software is the ability to automatically gather data for your business. Data is one of your greatest assets while doing business in the 21st century. It eliminates the guesswork that often forms a part of your everyday decision-making.

A study done by the McKinsey Global Institute found that businesses that leverage data are 23 times more successful at acquiring new customers. Customer acquisition is one of the most important, and daunting, aspects of running a business. Data gives you a clearer picture of customer demographics, successful marketing strategies, and popular appointment times. Without data, you’ll be taking shots in the dark. 

Ready to heed the math? There’s no doubt that online appointment software will benefit your business in more ways than one. Identify your goals and put online booking software to work. Before you know it, you’ll have exceeded your expectations and then some.

What Are Scheduling Links and How Do They Work?

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What Are Scheduling Links and How Do They Work?

Mastering your time is the key to becoming successful in any industry. It’s how professional athletes find time to train and recover, how top executives can seal so many deals, and how entrepreneurs can grow a startup while still raising a family. A lot of time management comes from self-mastery and dedication, but it never hurts to deploy a few tools to help you along the way.

One such tool is the scheduling link. Adding these links to your repertoire will save you tons of time when organizing your schedule; they will also improve the way you communicate. This guide will explain the ins and outs of scheduling links so you can reap the benefits for yourself.

What Is a Scheduling Link?

A scheduling link is a URL or web link that you can send to anyone online to share your availability. Recipients can click on the link to view your calendar and set up a meeting with you. You can create a link for one-time use or develop a template that you can use repeatedly.

After you send a scheduling link and the recipient selects a meeting time, you’ll receive a notification to confirm the time of the meeting. This allows you to quickly block out times on your calendar for meetings, interviews, and phone calls. 

Scheduling links can be attached to emails, sent via text message, or even embedded in your company website. This flexibility will enable you to use scheduling links in the way that best meets your needs. 

How Do You Set Up Scheduling Links?

To start, you need an online calendar that allows you to create scheduling links, which then use the contents of your calendar to create availability windows. Lest you think you’re throwing your entire life open to the world, rest assured that there are settings to hide information you don’t want others to see. You can keep your calendar entirely private or show teammates and customers the reasons you’re unavailable at various times.

To create the link itself, you only need to click. Each time you do, the link will analyze your calendar to create an accurate picture of your availability. Permanent scheduling links, which always stay up-to-date and never expire, can be sent to your closest connections. 

Some scheduling links give you even more control over your schedule. Even if you don’t have anything marked in your calendar for a certain time, you can close that span of time off in your scheduling link so no one books it. This will leave your lunch breaks uninterrupted when they’re not explicitly listed or guarantee some downtime during the day. 

What Are the Benefits of Scheduling Links?

First and foremost, you’ll save a lot of time with scheduling links and improve your overall communication. No one enjoys the back-and-forth emails required to coordinate times for meetings and phone calls. Life is so much easier when you can send a simple link and identify times where your two schedules line up.

Scheduling links will also help you with your time management. One simple distraction can derail your productivity by over 20 minutes. Don’t let an unnecessary phone call disrupt your flow when a scheduling link could prevent it.

Of course, as a leader, you might say that your door is always open to your employees. You can be true to your word and still maintain your productivity by making your scheduling link available to everyone on your team. At any point, they’ll be able to request a meeting at a time that works for you. 

Are Scheduling Links for Business or Personal Use?

The short answer is both. A scheduling link will go as far as you take it. Whether you want to use scheduling links to stay connected with a small team or all and sundry is up to you. Just take your goals into consideration.

For business purposes, scheduling links can be used in two ways. As mentioned, the first is for managers to make their availability accessible to employees. Team members from the top to the bottom of the corporate ladder will find this feature quite useful.

Scheduling links can also help businesses establish a relationship with customers. Account managers can create scheduling links for each of their clients to enable better communication. Small businesses can add scheduling links to their website for customers to book appointments more easily. 

For personal use, scheduling links can help you connect with all the groups in your life. If you volunteer at a charity, belong to a church group, or coach a Little League baseball team, you can use scheduling links to arrange work sessions, meetings, and practices with ease.

What Else Can Scheduling Links Do?

As basic as they are, scheduling links have a couple of additional tricks up their sleeve to help you master your calendar. Be sure to leverage the following capabilities to get the full benefit:

Meeting Buffer

Need a 15-minute breather after one meeting before tackling your next one? Add some buffer time to your scheduling link so no one will catch you off guard. 

Time Increments 

How long do you want your openings to be? You can make them as long as an hour or more or shorten them depending on how much time you think you’ll need. 

Notifications

What good is a meeting if you forget it? Get notifications hooked up to your links so both parties keep their end of the commitment. 

Double-Booking Prevention 

Having two people book the same time slot would lead to one big mess. Luckily, an updated scheduling link can prevent that from happening. 

Start using scheduling links today so you can get a feel for how they work. After a few test runs, you’ll be able to incorporate them into your daily routine and get so much more out of your time. 

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