Office Communication: The Right Thing at the Right Time in the Right Way

How we communicate with clients, contractors and vendors is important — nobody can deny that. Yet how we communicate with our fellow employees and co-workers within the same office space is just as important. Following are various types of intra-office communication in today’s modern office, with a look at how each applies to (or is preferred for) specific types of conversations or purposes.

Electronic

Let’s face it — in most of today’s cutting-edge office spaces, the majority of communication inside the office walls is done electronically, for better or worse. Let’s break this category down further to look separately at chatting / instant messaging, emailing and using a project management tool.

Chat

Chatting via an instant message app such as Lync or Skype is the engine by which things get done fast. That doesn’t mean you should rely on this all the time. With this form of instantly gratifying communication, there’s always a chance that something will be said off the cuff (it’s not like you can save your chat as a draft and think about it before you hit send). This can lead to tension between employees. Furthermore, without the associated tone of something that is communicated aloud, things can be misunderstood and cause confusion. It’s therefore important that intra-office IM and chat be reserved for issues that are non-critical, non-controversial and can be solved quickly.

Email

The volume of emails is insane even in start-up environments. And as you move up the management ladder, it gets even more insane. In fact, in 2013, email traffic coming from business email accounted for over 100 billion messages per day. Email is best used for technical or elaborate discussions where a record of communication needs to be kept. Don’t use email to complain, get angry or start a fight, even between peers. Do use email to communicate confidential information that shouldn’t or can’t be said out loud. Email is also wonderful for exchanging data that’s far too unwieldy for other methods of communication.

Project Management Tool

As mentioned above, email volume can be a nightmare, even with a carefully curated folder and filter system in place. And email is terrible for project management. Version control is an issue, as is keeping the correct people cc’d on an email. And when it comes to keeping track of timelines, associated files and client needs on projects, relying on email alone can be a nightmare. Enter a project management tool. At StrataBlue, we’re a big fan of Basecamp. This tool will allow you to collaborate with co-workers and clients in one place, which includes sharing project tools such as to-do lists and calendars.

Voice

The phone is often used strictly for communication with the outside world. However, depending on the size of your office (especially if you occupy multiple floors, in which case you might even say it is “inter-office” communication), a phone call may be the best way to get things done. If you have something to communicate that depends on tone of voice, if the person you’re calling is a phone person and hates electronic communication (those beasts are rare, but they exist), or if you’d like to set up a conference call that includes people in and outside the office, the old-fashioned phone call is often the only way. Note that some offices run these over the Internet and integrate headsets. Even the best phone doesn’t feel comfortable after holding it to your ear for two hours.

Face-to-Face

And the final form of communication is one that’s the most underrated. Sometimes you just have to walk over and speak in person. Too much has been made of video chat, telepresence, Oculus virtual environments and so on. Trying to handle crucial intra- or inter-office issues via texting can also downplay their importance or lead to confusion. Depending on your office’s policies, you might have to set up a meeting first, but looking someone in the eye and talking things over is often the best way to get issues addressed and tackled fast.

Never knock the face-to-face chat. There’s a reason why it’s so valued when a CEO of a major corporation takes the time to talk to employees in person. It’s considered special and personal, and face-to-face communication is great for conveying ideas that just wouldn’t hold as much meaning any other way.

Efficient and productive communication between and amidst co-workers is crucial to the success of any business. We take communication seriously at StrataBlue, not only amongst ourselves, but also with our clients. Get in touch.

Connect With Customers Using Contests and Sweepstakes

When was the last time you entered a contest and won? Why did you enter?

The last time I won a contest, I got a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. I entered because it was an easy process that required little to no effort from my part. That’s a pretty big prize considering they didn’t ask much of me. You have probably wondered what companies are trying to accomplish by running these contests and if it would be good for you to hold a contest as well.

Consider this: a study by Ipsos OTX found that 70% of US respondents noted that coupons, free products and discounts from companies drive them to stay more connected on social media.

Prize promotions are really a win-win situation for contestants and companies alike: sponsors use sweepstakes as a way of gaining new customers and making more profit, and contestants get great prizes. On average, there is a 34% increase in new fans acquired when a contest campaign is run.

Here are four of the reasons why companies should have sweepstakes and contests:

  • Generate “Buzz” about Products: Word-of-mouth marketing is more powerful than ever. People can now tell their friends instantly, through blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, about things that capture their interest. Contests and sweepstakes encourage people to talk about a company and spread the word about their products and services.
  • Website Views: A great product is worthless if your customers don’t know they exist. Online sweepstakes give people strong motivation to visit your website, and many of those people will continue to explore the website after they’ve entered to see what you have to offer.
  • Build Email Lists: Email marketing lists are a great way for companies to strike up a dialog and keep customers informed about products and services. This is why contests and sweepstakes should include the chance to opt-in to the sponsor’s mailing list. Newsletters are very valuable for contacting potential customers, so using sweepstakes has proven to be very successful for expanding mailing lists.

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  • Strengthen the Company and Customer Bond: Sweepstakes and contests strengthen the relationship between the customer and the company by building a sense of fun. They do this by entertaining people while informing them about the company’s products, and by giving a benefit for interacting with the company in the form of fun prizes. The chance to win creates a positive feeling in their visitors’ minds, which carry over to a brighter attitude toward the products.

Sweepstakes and contests only work when sponsors and contestants work together. That is why it is so important to not spam your customers and be courteous.

Which companies do you think have some of the best contests? Lets discuss in the comments below!

Email Marketing Isn’t Dead, It’s Making a Comeback

Email isn’t dead, it’s making a comeback.

According to a 2012 Blue Kangaroo study, 7 in 10 people say they made use of a coupon or discount from a marketing email in the prior week. Also, 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email.

Social media is a great tool for building your brand, generating a buzz and spreading the word about your product/service. This is at the top of the sales funnel to help spread your company’s mission to reach a large audience. This allows you to share broad topics and build a community around your brand. So what’s the next step?

When you’re ready to move your customers down the funnel through the path of purchase, it’s time to incorporate email marketing. Research shows that 90% of consumers report daily email use, with the largest group being Millennials. Email marketing goes beyond fans and followers, and is accessible to both mobile and desktop users. What is the point of having a large database of “customers” that have no value or won’t make a purchase when you can target high-value customers and drive them to opt in to your email list?

So how can you increase your email database to start reaching more customers? Here are five things you should be doing:

  • Create a contest. Use a third party app such as Wishpond to create a contest on Facebook and require customers to give you their email in order to enter. Make sure that the contest you create has a relevant prize to your company. For example, if you are a store that sells culinary equipment, have a contest to win a gift card or perhaps a free cooking class. This way, you know that the people who are entering (and giving you their email address) are valuable potential customers.
  • Inform your social media fans and followers when a newsletter is going to come out. Give them a sneak peek of what will be included in the newsletter along with with a link they can follow to sign up. the sneak peek should be a teaser into insider information a reader can only get by being subscribed to your email list.
  • Segment your list to personalize your message. Instead of sending out one mass email to your entire database, tailor your emails by looking at customer data such as browsing history, purchase history and click throughs. Create different variations of your email to send a more private and personal message to your customers.
  • Include a popover window on your website. One study has shown that 43 of all deal email sign ups come from popover email registration boxes.
  • Offer an incentive. Just as social media contests are popular due to the incentives offered, you can grow you email list by offering a discount or free sample. Maybe you give your customers a coupon code for 10% off their next purchase, or perhaps a free sample-sized product. Whatever the incentive is, make it worth your customers’ time to sign up.

Need help getting started? Contact us to get an email marketing plan put into place.

Where is Your Typhoon Haiyan Donation Going?

With the devastation Typhoon Haiyan has caused in the Philippines, there are email scams popping up all over the place. People’s first reaction when seeing images and videos of the area that was impacted is to immediately help those in need, but every day the news is reporting how slow the aid is coming. This causes people to want to donate quickly. Unfortunately, there are other people who see this tragedy as a way to make a quick dollar. Here is one scam I have already found in my research:
One of the first things you should wonder is how “Andrew” got your email address since you don’t know him. Also, if “Andrew” is a reporter, would there by all the grammatical and punctuation mistakes? Another thing that is off is that you are supposed to send money through Western Union via Andrew’s personal email address. No legitimate charity works this way. All charities are registered and you can find that list here.  Most likely if you were to send him money, it would not be going to help the Philippines but into someone’s pocket which is impossible for authorities to track. Luckily this email did not contain any attachments or links to click on, because those would probably have led to a virus being downloaded onto your computer

I can’t stress enough to always do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the history of the charity. Look for charities that have a proven track record with disaster relief. Instead of giving a general donation amount to the charity, you can ask that your money go specifically to the disaster relief of Typhoon Haiyan. One sure way to avoid being scammed is to never give money over the phone, it will be impossible to tell where the money is actually going. If you do think you are being scammed, you can report it to the toll-free NCDF hotline at 866-720-5721. This hotline is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the purpose of reporting suspected scams in the aftermath of disasters. If you get any emails that you are unsure about, let me know on Twitter @Cbyron11.

If you’re interested in helping the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, here are a few places you can do so: