FOURTH QUARTER SUCCESS PLAN FOR SERVICE BUSINESSES (UPDATED FOR 2021)

FOURTH QUARTER SUCCESS PLAN FOR SERVICE BUSINESSES (UPDATED FOR 2021)

The fourth quarter of the year is the time when service businesses can hit their yearly goals, even if they’ve not been on target earlier in the year. With Black Friday / Cyber Monday, holiday spending (including Christmas and Hanukkah) and end-of-year budgets all in the mix, the rewards can be great, but you need to be prepared.

To help you make the most of the fourth quarter, here are some steps you can put in place to maximise your sales and avoid overwhelm, so that when the holidays start, you can relax and enjoy a break.

REVIEW EXISTING CLIENTS AND COMMITMENTS

CLIENTS: The first step in getting ready for the fourth quarter is to look at your existing workload and commitments. Check the client work you already have booked in or that is likely to book. Contact potential clients who have said they want work done at some point and let them know this is their window to book in with their deposit before the year ends. Given you are about to launch promotional plans, your availability is likely to become extremely limited and your clients will appreciate giving them a heads-up now so they can plan too. You might even add in an early bird bonus to galvanise them.

CALENDAR: Also look at your calendar for personal commitments. Now would be a good time to check with family and others in your household about their expectations for the fourth quarter, especially plans for late December and into the new year.

PERSONAL: Are there any tasks you need to do – either personal or business – that you want to complete before the fourth quarter to have them out of the way? This could be anything from a dental check-up to bringing your paperwork up to date. Think of it as clearing the runway!

The goal of this is to assess your workload and to proactively manage your clients and maximise your revenue from existing clients.

YOUR CALENDAR AND DEADLINES

Now you’re going to find out where the other ‘edges’ are in your fourth quarter and define some of your own.

DEADLINES

  • Check with your main suppliers, delivery firms or any other businesses you work with on their holiday deadlines. Put them in your calendar.
  • Based on these, set your own client deadlines with time for you to do your work and including a cushion to cover epic courier failures, mistakes and illness. Add these to your calendar.
  • Tell existing clients about your deadlines, preferably everywhere: social media platforms, social media profiles, newsletters or a one-off email to current clients.

BLACK FRIDAY / CYBER MONDAY

Black Friday 2021 is Friday November 26, 2021. Mark this and Cyber Monday on Monday November 29 on your calendar.  Even if you don’t run any Black Friday promotions, this period affects spending patterns, social media ‘noise’ and ad costs, in the 10 days leading up to this promotional long weekend.

PLAN THE FOURTH QUARTER

Now that you know the landscape for the final three months or more of the year, you can plan. Big picture planning for most small service-based businesses is best on a few sheets of paper so you can see how everything fits together. I’ve designed a free printable planner of Q4 for 2021 which you can DOWNLOAD HERE. (No email needed).

Choose the promotions you’re going to run, if any. You may already be close to fully booked (go you!) and your main job here is to manage client expectations. If not, then look at your financial goals and plan one or more promotions that could meet those goals, given your availability.

For instance, if you are a yoga teacher who is going to run a Black Friday offer on yearly online class memberships, you might team up with a local artist to create a limited edition yoga mat: those signing up for the year receive one. To do this, you would need to find an artist, set up the commission and have at least one yoga mat printed so that you can check quality and use it to promote your offer. Then you promote it for a week or two leading up to Black Friday.

There are a HUGE number of advantages to being this organised.  For a start, you’re so much more likely to hit your revenue goals. You’re less likely to be overwhelmed and it means you can take advantage of early bird specials or bulk discounts on printing marketing pieces or telling the local newspaper about your yoga mat commission and arranging a photo shoot of you, the artist and the yoga mat.

SUPPLIES CHECK

What are all the supplies you could need for this quarter? Check printer ink, sticky tape, Sharpies, bubble wrap, brown paper, labels, scissors, batteries. Either check everything now and order or make a note on your calendar when you are going to do this.

If you usually give your suppliers a little extra something at Christmas, now would be a good time to schedule that, perhaps even using Black Friday discounts.

Ditto, if you send holiday or New Year cards, schedule in time for those which could include: planning, shooting, designing, ordering, writing and addressing.

INBOX CLEAR-OUT

An inbox is not a task list. So if you have hundreds or thousands of emails in there that want actioning, move them to a sub-folder so you don’t get drawn in every time you go to your inbox.

Going forward, you’re going to empty your inbox daily Monday to Friday or whatever your business week is. Check your inbox between one and three times a day and close it at other times. This will allow you to concentrate on the big chunks of work you need to get through without email being a distraction.

Answer anything that you can do inside a couple of minutes and for anything that will take longer, turn it into a task. Copy and paste the relevant piece of the email to the task. If you have a system that links emails like LightBlue or Daylite, that’s fabulous.

Once you’ve either replied or turned the email into a task, file the email in a sub-folder. Given that you can search for the email by content or sender, you could just have one sub-folder for ‘dealt with’ emails.

This system of handling email is based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done. It’s a fabulous book for managing your business and life generally – perhaps a holiday read?

You also need to go through your current inbox for the past month or so and triage it: either respond inside a few minutes or turn into a task. You do not want one of these coming back in a few weeks to trip you up when you’re at your busiest. Schedule your triage session in your calendar in the next few days if you can’t do this today.

BEING EFFICIENT

When you’re planning your client projects, it can be useful to keep the notes and thoughts for each project in a separate folder. Breaking down projects helps prevent overwhelm and keeps them on track.

For instance, ‘do album’ may include:
– Request favourites from client / choose favourites
– Import image folder into album design software
– Check size of album + number of pages
– Design album
– Export design as double-page spreads
– Resize spreads and save for web
– Upload to online review software, write intro blurb, publish.
– Email client with link, next steps and album deadlines.

For sets of repeating tasks such as the steps in designing an album, it can be helpful to keep a list of them which you print and tick off. Electronic task managers can have their own versions of this; for instance, Daylite has activity sets.

Although you may know all the steps, remembering them in the right order can take up space in your head that you may want for other things.

GETTING HELP

If it looks as if you have too much on your plate, there are a few things you can do.

One is to truly look at how efficient you are. For instance, designing albums and making album changes all on one day is more efficient than doing an hour a day for the week. This is because when you switch context between different tasks, it takes us time to adjust from one to the next.

This means that a one-minute email in the midst of album design is more like a five to 10-minute email as you lose your train of thought on the album. There is also something intrinsically rewarding with getting something as complex as an album design done in just one or two concentrated sittings without distractions.

If you are being efficient, then what support could you get? Concentrate on removing or reducing tasks that suck your willpower. For one person, this could be using social media hashtags, for another, it could be the thought of what to cook for dinner. Social media management or food boxes with recipes such as Hello Fresh might help.

Also keep in mind services such as Fiverr and Upwork for online business tasks and Helping Hands and local teenagers/parents to deal with physical ones such as packing orders and post office runs. Try to get your support set up before you need it.

Schedule time in your calendar for you too. This includes time off, family/friends time and workouts.  You can download a free printable planner of your 2018 fourth quarter I’ve designed just for you – no email needed HERE

NEXT STEPS

You should now have a calendar with important dates and deadlines and a set of projects, each of which contains tasks. These two pieces can help you stay on top of this quarter like a boss. Check your projects each week – it will probably take you less than 30 minutes – to make sure that everything is progressing as it should be: clients or suppliers have responded to emails and nothing you were meant to do has fallen through the cracks.

We’re all human and things WILL get lost along the way, but the weekly checks will bring you back on course quickly and help you plan your tasks for the week. Don’t forget, you can download a free printable planner of 2021 fourth quarter I’ve designed just for you here. 

I hope this helps you plan your fourth quarter success, staying sane and delivering a great service to your clients.

Facebook header size – the perfect pixels for desktop and mobile in 2021

Facebook header size – the perfect pixels for desktop and mobile in 2021

If you’ve ever wondered how big to make your Facebook header or found your uploaded photo looking pixelated, here’s the complete guide to the perfect Facebook header size and making sure it works across desktop and mobile in 2021.

FACEBOOK HEADER DIMENSIONS IN 2021

The Facebook header size is 820 pixels wide by 312 pixels high on desktop and 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels high for mobile. Given that you can only upload one image to your Facebook page, make it the desktop size and put all essential parts of your image, text or graphics in the centre of your header.

This means that although the far left and far right of your header image will be cut off for mobile viewers, they will still see everything they need to.

Here’s what that looks like:

Facebook header size showing the safe area that is visible on mobile and desktop.

There’s just one trick to keep in mind: because some people will see the page on a high-resolution retina screen, you might like to double these dimensions so that your images remain clear and crisp. For the retina screen option, your Facebook header size is 1640 pixels by 624 pixels.

BEST FORMAT FOR FACEBOOK HEADER

Facebook suggests that the fastest loading header image is a JPG file that is less than 100 kilobytes. For header images with your logo or text, you might get a better result with a PNG file. If getting the exact colours right is important to you, Facebook also suggests using the sRGB colour space.

HOW TO CREATE YOUR FACEBOOK HEADER

You can simply upload a photo that is the right dimensions and you’re done. You might also choose to add your logo and/or text that explains more about your business or what you currently have on offer.

To create either option in the correct size, you need some kind of photo or graphics editor. My favourite for this is free online graphic design tool Canva. It has built-in Facebook templates and it’s easy to compare layout variations with one-click layout duplication.

KEY FEATURES OF A PERFECT FACEBOOK HEADER

Ideally, you want your Facebook header photo to tell the complete story of your page. If you’re a wedding photographer, you want a photo of you working with a couple on their wedding day, so you’re visible. Simply having a photo of newlyweds says ‘wedding’, but could also be promoting a make-up artist, florist, venue, planner or dress designer.

You want your photo to be super clear because Facebook users are often scrolling quickly on their phones while they’re out and about. You only have a few seconds to make it clear what you offer and most of the time, on a small mobile screen.

The same applies to text or a logo. Use up to five words and be aware that a logo with writing may not be clear, especially if it’s in a script font or contains unfamiliar words that the eye doesn’t recognise in a quick scan.

Use your branding colours and fonts if possible. It helps existing fans of your business recognise you and helps build brand recognition for those who are new.

WHERE TO FIND PHOTOS FOR YOUR HEADER

The best photos for Facebook are authentic ones – some would say ‘messy’ or believable, rather than perfectly taken, photoshopped commercial images. Your clients might share perfect examples of this with you, using your product or sharing how they benefitted from your services. Just get their permission! This is also known as user generated content or UGC.

If you are going to use stock images, try to avoid the very common ones that have been seen multiple times across other businesses, especially those from free stock sites. If that’s not possible, then take a little time to think of less common search terms. For example, look for ‘designer-makers’ rather than ‘creative business owners’. And do spend some time scrolling through the search results rather than picking one from the very top – it makes it less likely that the photo you choose is already familiar to your page visitors and associated with other businesses.

Also, make sure your header fits Facebook’s terms. This means avoiding misleading claims, swearing and being appropriate for all ages as the page is open to everyone on Facebook.

That’s everything you need to create a Facebook header that works flawlessly across desktop and mobile and clearly shows what your business has to offer in a few seconds. I hope it’s useful.

How to choose the best board names on Pinterest in 2021

How to choose the best board names on Pinterest in 2021

Knowing how to choose the best board names on Pinterest in 2021 is an essential part of being found on the SEO-based platform, alongside creating the best pins and best strategies. In this article, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about naming Pinterest boards so you get more re-pins and traffic.

HOW DO I START A BOARD ON PINTEREST?

You start or create a board on Pinterest in three easy steps. These are:

1. Making sure you’re logged into Pinterest, click on your profile photo on the top right-hand side. This will display your boards.
2. Click the + button on the right-hand side and select ‘create board’ from the dropdown menu.
3. Name the board, choose if you want to make it secret and press the red ‘create’ button. You’re done!

How do I start a board on Pinterest screenshot from Pinterest showing how to press the + button and create a new board for your account.

WHAT SHOULD I NAME MY PINTEREST BOARDS IN 2021?

Your board names on Pinterest should use  words that people are already searching for inside the app, so that your board has the best chance of being found. You can find out the best terms – often called keywords – by searching yourself and seeing what Pinterest suggests for you.

As an example, if I put ‘yoga tips’ into Pinterest, there are suggested terms just below including ‘for beginners’, ‘for beginners 30 day’ and ‘for beginners flexibility’. I can also see a range of pins below these suggestions. In the drop-down menu on the right-hand side of the search bar, you can also set it to ‘boards’ and see what boards are called ‘Yoga tips’. There are a LOT of results!

So while you CAN name your board ‘Yoga tips’, it’s going to be difficult to set it apart from all the other boards with the same name. If you niche down more in the name, perhaps with ‘Yoga tips for beginners’ as Pinterest suggested, that would help beginners find your board.

To target more advanced yogis, you might type ‘Advanced yoga’ into the search bar, which will suggest terms like ‘advanced yoga flow’ or ‘advanced yoga poses names’. If your board names on Pinterest are these more niche terms, they’re more likely to be found and your pins are more likely to be re-pinned and clicked on.

HOW LONG TO MAKE A PINTEREST BOARD NAME

A Pinterest board name can be up to 50 characters long. You want the most important words at the front, because those are the ones that will show on your profile or in a search for boards.

Here’s what that looks like:

HOW MANY PINTEREST BOARDS CAN YOU HAVE?

You can have up to 500 Pinterest boards including secret boards and group boards you didn’t create. Secret boards are those that only you and other Pinterest users you invite can see (Pinterest calls these other people ‘collaborators’). Group boards are public boards that have more than one person able to add pins.

HOW TO WRITE GREAT PINTEREST BOARD DESCRIPTIONS

You have 500 characters for your Pinterest board descriptions. That gives you room to describe clearly what your board is about, using keywords near the beginning of the description. These can be a mix of popular, broad keywords and long-tail phrases. Long-tail phrases often start with ‘how to …’ or ‘how can I …’.

Mention if the board serves a particular niche, such as Etsy sellers or what transformation they can expect eg ‘learn how to take your own product photos’. Use keywords you found when searching Pinterest for your board names. Although writing a board name in capitals can make it appear bolder, it’s also more difficult to read, so using upper and lower case text is best. 

HOW TO EDIT A PINTEREST BOARD

Edit a Pinterest board by:
1. Clicking on your board to open it and selecting the three dots for board options. It will show you an option to ‘Edit board’.
2. Here, you can change the board name, board cover, description, collaborators, make it secret, show pins inspired by the board in your home feed or delete the board.
3. Click the red ‘Done’ button to save your changes.

HOW TO CREATE PINTEREST BOARD COVERS

You can manually assign one of your pins as the board cover or Pinterest will choose a pin itself. This means you can make a board cover graphic and pin it to the board. Give it the board URL as its link.

Once you’ve saved the pin to your board, edit the board and choose ‘CHANGE COVER’. Choose the pin you have just saved as the cover. The pin you have chosen as a cover will usually appear as a square

The jury’s out as to whether this has an impact on gaining followers or repins, but speaking for myself, if someone has gone to the trouble of creating board covers, I’m more likely to think they’ve curated pins with some extra thought as well and am more likely to look at their content and follow them.

HOW TO ORGANISE PINTEREST BOARDS

Arrange your boards on your profile in a way that works for you. Pinterest offers automatic arrangements based on the alphabet or showing boards in order of boards where you saved your last pins. A third way is manual – you drag and drop your boards in exactly the order you prefer.

You can set which of the three options you want by looking at your boards and finding the ‘settings’ icon with two circles on two lines. Click on this to select your option.

I recommend you choose the drag and drop option, putting the most important boards for your ideal clients first. Click on a board and drag it to a white space between other boards. The first board will automatically contain all your pins or all saved products. You cannot move this board.

How to rearrange Pinterest boards with drag and drop.

HOW MANY SECTIONS CAN A PINTEREST BOARD HAVE?

Pinterest boards appear to be able to have unlimited numbers of sections. You can have at least 20 sections in a Pinterest board, which should be more than enough for one board.

HOW TO DELETE A PINTEREST BOARD

You can delete a Pinterest board in three easy steps. These are

1. Making sure you’re logged into Pinterest, click on your profile photo on the top right-hand side. This will display your boards.
2. Move your cursor over the board you want to delete. An option to edit with a pencil icon will appear.
3. Scroll down the board editing options and click on ‘Delete board’. Click the red ‘Delete forever’ pop-up button that appears.

WANT TO UPGRADE YOUR PINTEREST ACCOUNT?

To upgrade your Pinterest account easily and quickly, I’ve created this set of Pinterest pin templates you can download and be using in minutes inside online design tool Canva. The set of 31 minimal pin designs opens in one click inside your Canva account. All the fonts and design elements contained in the pin templates are free, so you don’t need the pro version. Just add your brand colours, drop in your own photos and swap the fonts/text and you’re done!

USE THE ARCHIVE INSTAGRAM POST FEATURE TO CURATE YOUR FEED

USE THE ARCHIVE INSTAGRAM POST FEATURE TO CURATE YOUR FEED

You always want your Instagram feed to show clearly what you or your business is about. One of the best ways you can do that is by regularly curating your feed using the archive Instagram post feature: here’s a step-by-step guide to archiving posts.

HOW TO ARCHIVE INSTAGRAM POSTS

The first step is to learn how to archive Instagram posts. To archive a post, click the three dots on the top right of the post and click the second option – to archive. Your post will disappear from your Instagram grid but the post and its insights are kept in the archive, where only you can see them.

How to archive Instagram posts in 2020 - a step by step guide. HOW TO FIND ARCHIVED INSTAGRAM POSTS

You can find archived Instagram posts by going to your Instagram profile and clicking on the three lines at the top right of your account and clicking on Archive. It has a drop-down menu for you to access either posts or Stories. Click on the post option to see all your archived posts.

To move an archived post back to your grid, select the relevant archived post and select the option to ‘Show on profile’. It will automatically move back to your grid, showing in date order and containing all of its likes and comments.

INSTAGRAM ARCHIVE FEATURE INTRODUCTION

Instagram introduced its archive feature in mid-2017 after testing it several months earlier. At the time, many Instagrammers were removing posts that didn’t get the number of comments or likes they wanted, sometimes leading to moments of regret

Posts that are archived are only able to be seen by the account owner. They’re especially useful when you want to create Story highlights on a particular theme – just go into your Story archive and add the relevant Stories which expire after 24 hours.

HOW TO CURATE YOUR INSTAGRAM FEED

Now that you know how to move Instagram posts into the archive and back again, have a good look at your grid. What does it say about you or your business? If someone glanced at the photos without reading the captions, would that give a clear picture of what you have to offer and your style – especially for creative businesses?

Try removing any posts that detract from the main message or style of your grid to leave behind a well curated feed that tells visitors in a few seconds what’s on offer. If your feed has a pattern, it may take a couple of rounds of changes to curate your feed so that it maintains an aesthetic look while showing only the very best of your work. This can work especially well if you’ve updated your brand or feed colours and want to phase in the new palette.

You could even try archiving some of the colours or content in your grid to test the look.  If you don’t like it, just un-archive the posts  In fact, any time you want to curate or freshen your Instagram feed, you can use the archiving feature, knowing you can always return a post if you change your mind.

WHAT DOES TBT MEAN AND HOW TO USE ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

WHAT DOES TBT MEAN AND HOW TO USE ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

Ever seen #TBT on a social media post and wondered what it meant? Here’s a quick explanation of what TBT means and how to use it on your own social media platforms.

WHAT DOES TBT MEAN?

TBT stands for throwback Thursday. It’s used when we want to share old photos or videos of ourselves and sometimes our businesses, to show what we were like many years ago. It’s a fun way for our followers to learn more about us and can apply to almost anything that has happened in the past.

WHICH PLATFORMS IS TBT USED ON?

TBT is most commonly used on Instagram and Twitter. As of June 2020, there are more than 500,000 photos with this hashtag on Instagram. If you’re looking for hashtag alternatives to TBT, # throwbackthursday has more than 50 million photos on Instagram and # throwbackthursdays is heading for more than 1.6 million. You could even use simply #throwback which has more than 110 million photos on Instagram.

HOW TO USE TBT ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

Firstly, use the TBT tag on a Thursday. Although if you get your days muddled and still want to use your post, you could go with #flashbackfriday Use it as a signpost to your followers that you’re sharing nostalgic content.

One of the most useful ways of using TBT is for storytelling. People connect with and remember stories, and given that you have new people finding out about your business all the time, it can be useful to share the origin story of your business or services regularly.

Typically, you would share a photo or video, alongside a commentary explaining what’s going on in the photo and how different things are today. Music from YouTube or Spotify are other great links to share. You can share how far you or your business have come, comparing old branding such as logos or colours, premises or products with what’s on offer today and perhaps even pivotal moments along the way. TBT posts are often comedic or have a humorous slant, with vintage hairstyles or clothing that reflects an era such as big ’80s hair or ’70s flares. Nostalgia can trigger strong emotional responses too, making it especially memorable and shareable. Using this hashtag is similar to Facebook’s ‘Memories’ that appear on the anniversaries of their posting.

 

 

Instagram hashtag ebook Hashtag Hotshot - to help you find the best hashtags for getting more reach on Instagram.

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