Tag Archives: planning

The Foundation of Social Media Success

Each social media site has its own unique personality, community and features. If you’re not familiar with it, the first thing to do is watch, listen and learn. But to use your time well, the key to success is knowing what you want to achieve by using social media. If you don’t know where you want to go, it’s hard to know if you’ve gotten there.

gears with yellowhighlighted gear in centerThinking through your goals will help you determine which social media sites, strategies, content, visuals and stories to use to achieve success. And what metrics to measure to gauge how you’re doing.

That is why the first foundation I help clients think through is their goals and most important audiences. For example, do you want to:

  • Increase customers, clients, donors, or members
  • Build community with current customers
  • Educate  a specific audience about something
  • Increase visibility for your organization

For more details check out my article on how to Create Your Social Media Plan for Success.

 

7 Quick Tips for Overcoming Procrastination

It is so easy to slide into the rabbit hole of procrastination, especially when big projects are looming, your calendar is overflowing with meetings, and your devices keep pinging at you. The urgent, everyday stuff like email and social media can lure us away from what we know is most important. Never does “getting organized” seem as alluring as when there’s something you’re uncomfortable or hesitant about doing even though you know you need to.

stop_buttonTry these ideas for beating the temptation of time wasters:

  • Each morning (or the night before) plan what you will get done today that will help you meet your most important goals. Be realistic about what you can accomplish.

  • Do your most creative work when you feel most fresh. Avoid looking at email and social media or taking non-urgent phone calls during those times. Close out of those programs, use the mute button, and focus.

  • Commit to an output goal or number of hours doing something on a consistent basis that helps you meet your bigger picture goals. This makes it harder to “accidentally” not make progress because of everything else that got in the way. For example, I’m going to write  for 3 hours every day without interruption, in two different time slots. Or I’m going to reach out to a minimum of 10 X-type of people through at least X emails, social media messages, and phone calls each week day.

  • Set time limits for how long you’ll spend doing more routine tasks like answering emails or posting on social media. Use a timer if it helps.

  • Are you trying to perfect something that wasn’t meant to be the next Mona Lisa? If you find yourself honing something endlessly, for example crafting the sixth version of anything, consider if you’re caught in the grass blades which is preventing you from looking at the forest. Seth Godin’s points out that there comes the time when you need to execute and complete the stepping stone projects that help you get where you want to go.
  • Reward yourself for meeting your goals or coming close, whether it’s meeting friends, reading that novel, or watching a fun movie.

  • Is your procrastination your brain or heart’s way of telling you something? If you find yourself elbows deep in cleaning out your desk or closet and you haven’t gotten your most critical goals done, ask yourself what is holding you back. Are you avoiding it because you feel uncomfortable doing it, are unsure of how to do it well enough to meet someone’s standards or your own, or is it taking you in a direction you don’t really want to go? Experts like Chris Brogan speak eloquently about pushing yourself to focus and execute or re-plan your strategy.

For more ideas, check out my recent article 12 Time Saving Hacks for Busy Professionals.

What are your strategies for overcoming procrastination?

 

12 Time Saving Hacks for Busy Professionals

Here are 12 of my favorite ways to save time, with special attention to social media and marketing. For those times when you might feel tempted by the lure  of procrastination, also check out my 7 Quick Tips for Overcoming Procrastination.

The Big Picture

1. Keep your goals top of mind. Is what you’re doing right now helping you to accomplish your goals? What can you stop doing? (Check out my blog articles ClockSaving Time and Effort to Free Up Energy for What Matters Matters Most and How Do You Know When It’s Time to Let Go of a Product or Service for tips.)

2. Partner with other noncompetitive organizations and leaders to amplify your efforts and compare experiences. Just be judicious in picking the right collaborators and watching your time spent.

 

Social Media, Marketing & Your Brand

3. Monitor mention of your brand and related keywords through free tools like Google Alerts, Talkwalker and Social Mention. If you do an advanced search in Twitter it automatically saves your search parameters make it quick and easy to repeat.

4. Staying on top of the news in your industry and profession is critical but easier said than done. Use a news filter like Feedly as a central place to read your favorite sources. Follow the topics, companies and thought leaders you’re most interested in on LinkedIn and Twitter to get quick updates.

5. Use Twitter Lists to filter your specific information needs. A Twitter lists is simply a list you set up of Twitter users. You could set up a list of media, competitors, clients, members, donors, etc. How-to instructions from Twitter are here.

6. Judiciously schedule social media posts through a free tool like Hootsuite or Buffer. Schedule your Facebook posts directly through Facebook as a number of experts say the Facebook algorithm favors this approach vs. using an external scheduler.

Scheduling Caveats:

  • Be prepared to change your automated social media posts in case of a crisis or national event that inadvertently could make your tweets or posts seem inappropriate or poorly timed.
  • Also, I do not recommend posting your tweets to Facebook as they tend to look out of place. In general, it’s best not to post the same wording to several social media sites as you should try to vary what you post where and word them differently suited to the tone and environment of each.

7. Focus your social media efforts on a few sites where you will best reach your most important audiences and goals unless you have staff to cover more. Spreading yourself too thin trying to cover too much ground without the resources to do it well can be counterproductive.

8. Review which kinds of automated alerts and emails you get from LinkedIn Groups, Twitter, Facebook, et al to make sure they match what uses your time and serves your needs best.

General Productivity

9. Pause and review critical emails, tweets, and  posts to make sure they are accurate, sound appropriate, and are typo-free. Watch out for errant autocorrects on your devices to avoid embarrassment. This might sound counter intuitive, but spending a few minutes or waiting to send that critical email or post could save you a world of time and angst later.

10. Do your most creative, thought intensive work when you are freshest. Group similar activities together to be more efficient, such as email, social media/blog commenting, reading. Try to tackle, delete or electronically file items as you go through them so you don’t spend time on them more than once, and answer things that can be handled with a quick answer. Also group errands in similar close proximity together.

11. Put time slots in your calendar for important activities that you want to get done like networking for when it is easiest to fit it in (for example Friday afternoons). Try out a productivity tool like Evernote to organize your notes, projects, and tasks and syncs across your devices.

12. Keep a workout bag stocked and handy to make it easy to get exercise to give you more energy, a fresh outlook and staying healthy. If you travel frequently, keep your cosmetics bag stocked and ready to go to save packing time.

 

Reinventing Yourself Continuously Essential in a World of Constant Change

As an eternal optimist, I see change as an open door to learn and explore new possibilities. The reality is the world is changing at a much faster pace than in the past. If you want to stay essential and feel fulfilled in your career and profession, continuously exploring what is new in your field and how to evolve your perspective and skills is critical to your success.

stairway leading to an open door and blue sky

Embrace change as an opportunity. Avoiding change is a path to extinction as companies like Blockbuster and Borders learned when it was too late. No one wants that to happen to their career, which is why learning and change is such an important part of a personal branding plan.

For more tips on personal branding, check out my article 10 Ways to Manage Your Professional Brand, Reinventing as Needed.

Anticipating Where Your Field is Headed

What trends do you see in your profession and sector? How are technology and new ways of thinking disrupting your business? Ingraining an explorer’s passion will keep you nimble, scanning your horizon for opportunities and threats and seeking innovations.

Do you want to disrupt or be disrupted? Imagine if Borders had acted thoughtfully and promptly to buying and downloading books online when Amazon first started to become popular. What if they had created a clever, useful e-book reader early on? What if Blockbuster had anticipated that video stores could become yesterday’s news and figured out a game changing way to manage video streaming? Now the collaborative economy with success stories like Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft are disrupting traditional businesses starting with hotels and taxis.

What can we do individually to find intrigue in change and imagine how we can re-engineer our careers to take best advantage of the changes? And not be left behind as changes inevitably impact our profession and industries.

After all, creative individuals help drive the change and the innovations that disrupt and to put it more positively, improve, create and enlarge our worlds. Far better to be driving change than see it drive by us.

Find the mentors and network you need to help you learn and grow. And to be part of the change rather than having change pass you by. Don’t wait for a crisis to network, reach out regularly to interesting people you admire or who have expertise you can learn from. Connect people to each other and seek out opportunities to mentor others.

Watch for success stories and what you can learn from them. Businesses, nonprofits, and people who have expertise, skills and success you admire. Read up and reach out to them. What can you take from what you learn and apply it to your organization and career?

How can you update your skills or apply them to other interests you have?

A video store evolves to a cell phone repair store

A video store evolves to a cell phone repair store

An Entrepreneur’s Social Media Plan for Success

This post was originally published in Entrepreneur on April 22, 2014, at http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/233251.

Social media can give entrepreneurs the same opportunity to build community and engage customers as their better funded competitors. But when time and resources are limited, it’s crucial to laser focus social-media efforts to achieve goals: Do you want to drive sales, generate qualified leads, build relationships with current customers and bloggers in your industry? And of course figure out how you can measure it.

For entrepreneurs needing a little help developing their social media plan, here are a few tips.

Be crystal clear on who your target audience is. Determining your target demographic is imperative for success (without customers there are no sales). Make sure you have a clear image of who you exactly what to reach. Make sure you know them inside and out and are familiar with their interests, needs and biggest challenges. How does your product or service solve their problems? Also look at influencers in your industry, as they can play an important role in reaching your audience.

Which social media sites are they on? Determine where these people like to socialize and stalk them. If you’re tightly staffed and have limited funds to contract help, it can be difficult to actively engage in a variety of sites. In that case, pick two or three sites — preferably the ones that are used most often with your audience — to do well. You can always add more sites later.

Plan your messaging strategy. Make sure your branding strategy and story brings your company to life. That said, keep in mind, it’s not about you or your brand, it’s about what your customer likes and wants. Connect your customer’s interests and challenges to your content and how your products or services can help them.

Don’t use social media to just talk about your business or product.While it is okay to sprinkle in a few tidbit here and there, no one wants to continually hear about how awesome your company is. Instead, provide useful information and news related to your specific audience’s needs and interests. Also, share related content from other sources, not just from you.

Mix it up. Feature a mixture of different kinds of content — from news to practical tips and humorous stories. Emphasize by using visuals such as images, photos, videos, infographics and slide decks.

For example, Citrus Lane, which sells subscription packages to parents of young children, shares entertaining, fun visuals on sites like Facebook, as well as provides deals, contests and handy tips.

Keep your website as your home base. While social media is imperative, make sure your website remains your anchor. (Also, don’t neglect building your own opt-in email list.) Post original content on your site along with guest articles in places your customers and influencers visit. Then use social media to share the content and drive traffic to your website and sales or lead pages.

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Create Your Social Media Plan for Success

What is the best way to use social media to increase your organization’s revenue, and communicate with your current and prospective customers, donors, clients, members? Maybe you’ve been using Facebook or LinkedIn for quite a while but you’re not sure it’s doing anything for you. Is it worth the time? How do you know if you’re doing the right things?

You need a simple, straightforward plan for social media success. If you’re like me, you don’t want to spend months thinking through a complex plan that is too complicated to execute in the first place. You want to get moving and see action and results.

Here is my outline and tips for developing a clear social media plan that drives results.

mapping through a maze

Map these components out, involving anyone in your team who plays a role in your social media presence or you think would add value to your discussion.

 

Your Goals: What are the two or three most important goals you have for your social media presence? Do you want to increase revenue of a specific product(s), attract new members/donors, prospect for clients, build community with current customers?

Your Audience: Picture who you most want to reach and as much information as you can about them. Age range, preferences, needs, interests, etc. What kinds of words and expressions resonate with them? What are their biggest problems keeping them up at night that you can help solve or at least share some levity or understanding of? What do they care about? Which social media sites are they most likely to spend time on (as opposed to just having a profile and don’t visit regularly)?

What is the most important message, story and/or theme you want to articulate? Use a mixture of kinds of posts and messaging, that include serious, funny or tongue in cheek, behind the scenes, and very useful content that helps solve your customers/donors/members’ problems. Always keep your goals and brand in mind. Share content from other organizations so you have a wide mix not all egocentric about you. And minimize how much you post that is “salesy.” Only a small percentage should be sales oriented, the vast majority should use a useful content approach or sharing content from other reliable sources.

How does your messaging and social media goals fit in with your overall marketing, communications, and public relations plan for your organization? You want a consistent look and feel visually, as well as in message and tone. Your social media posts and communications should support and integrate with what you are doing through other channels.

Brainstorm images, videos, polls, and questions you can feature that reinforce your stories and messaging. Social media is very visual and interactive.

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Social Media SOS: Help! Do I Have to Be on ALL the Sites?! Am I Doing the Right Things?

I hear this question all the time: With so many social media sites and so much information swirling around about what you are “supposed” to do online,  does it mean I need a presence everywhere? How do I know what to say on all these sites and understand them all? Can I just post the same thing on all of them? Oh, and how am I supposed to get anything else done?! And is this really going to help increase my sales, revenue, donations, number of members, or fill in the blank?

It’s enough to give anyone a panic attack, especially given how busy we all are. Whether you’re a small business, nonprofit, practitioner, association, or entrepreneur, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done as it is. But what people share all the time is their nervousness and growing dartboard_successfulrecognition that social media can be a powerful tool and not having at least a modest presence and level of knowledge could leave them at a huge disadvantage. In fact, harnessing social media strategically can and has given many small organizations or practices a big jump on their competition, even those that are much bigger.

So what is the answer? Start with what you are trying to accomplish, who your audience is, and what your business goals are. Then prioritize which social media platforms and approaches will be most worth your time and effort. Step back and think about what is the right answer for you and your organization. Check out my article on developing a quick and straightforward social media plan, but in the meanwhile, here are some tips:

Prioritize Your Time. Be realistic about what you can accomplish with the resources you have. Do you have staff who can spend time on this or should you be seeking some outside help? It’s better to really engage well in one or two social media sites that hold the most promise for success then spread yourself too thin and not do a good job on any of them. Or to accidentally ignore comments your receive online because you didn’t have time to notice them.

You can have some modest presence on a site like Google Plus for the sake of enhancing your SEO (search engine optimization) so that your content is easier to find when people do keyword searches on Google. However, it’s hard to do Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter well if you’re only going to pay attention to it a couple of times every month or two. You can casually use them, but will you be accomplishing your goals?

Use the Right Language and Don’t Say the Same Exact Thing on Multiple Sites.  Think about who your most important audience is, what their needs, interests, and problems are. Use words and expressions that resonate with your audience. Customize what and how you say things to the culture and environment of the site you’re posting on. Tools like Hootsuite allow you to post to different social media sites in one convenient place and listen to  and engage in online conversations. But using Hootsuite to broadcast the same message in multiple places without sensitivity to the unique environment of each place can make your postings seem out of place or at the least not as effective.

Spend time “listening” and learning the culture of each site you want to engage in and the typical practices and style of each. For example Twitter has a very different feel than Facebook or LinkedIn. Small touches can really increase your success.

Think creatively about imagery you can use to engage people and express your story and message. If you spend time on social media you’ll see the increasing usage and impact of images in all formats, including photos, graphics, and videos.

Compare What Other Organizations are Doing.  You can get great ideas looking at how different organizations are using the same social media sites you are. Especially watch what similar kinds of organizations are doing, though you can also learn from organizations in different fields and apply it to your industry, especially if they seem to have similar goals.

Please Share Your Experiences. Which social media sites are you focusing on for which purposes? Has that helped you use your time and effort wisely? I would love to hear about what is working for you.

 

Focusing on Most Important Goals, Values for 2014

Setting New Year’s resolutions can either sound efficient or pointless depending on how you look at it. Resolutions can be an exercise in setting aspirations or opportunities for failure. Which is why I prefer using the start of a new year as an opportunity to reflect on what is most important to me personally and professionally and set priorities for the year.

start mark at beginning of running trackProfessionally it is important to have in mind the most important goals and priorities so that in the craziness of every day there is something clear to aim for. Otherwise how will we know if we really accomplished anything except the uncomfortable awareness of how easy it is to get distracted by the hundreds of small, urgent pings and tasks surrounding us.

Having those big picture aspirations can make it easier to prioritize the mundane from the future changing opportunities. Check out my previous post Saving Time and Effort to Free Up Energy for What Matters Most for tips on creating a stop doing list.

Reflecting on what is really important to your business and personal future can make all the difference. This also includes thinking about how you balance the two so you have quality time for your family, learning new things, taking care of yourself, and some volunteering – the various spheres of your life. What gives you energy and inspires you, what leaves you sapped, who and what you really care about.

And while the instinct to think about the future is great, it’s also the perfect time to celebrate what you’ve accomplished in the past year. It’s so easy to think about what could have gone better or the negative, but looking for the positive and happy times will leave a much more joyous momentum for the new year.

Wishing everyone a very happy. fulfilling year!

 

Landmark Books to Inspire Your Leadership, Marketing & Planning for the Future

While I am an avid reader of a number of leadership, marketing and social media blogs, many of which are listed in my blog roll on my www.lisadanielpour.com home page, I also squeeze in time to read the latest books that I think will be pivotal to informing my thinking about the future. These are three recent reads that inspired my business planning and marketing strategy that I wanted to share.

Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype by Jay Baer
youtility-bookThis short book is a must read for re-thinking how you market and communicate with your current and potential customers, members, or constituents. The reality is we live in a very crowded marketplace with thousands of brands and organizations swamping our favorite social media sites, email in boxes, and every other route possible to our eyes and ears. Whether you are a company marketing a product or service, a consultant or other professional seeking clients, or a nonprofit trying to engage potential donors and volunteers, how do you stand out from all that noise?

Youtility gives you that path through providing absolutely usefulness and value to whatever kind of consumer you want to attract, reflecting your understanding of their wants and needs and ability to deliver solutions to their problems. As Jay Baer puts it best, “Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers. Youtility is massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers.”

I found Baer’s book invaluable in taking the concept of content marketing to the next level to thinking about how can I best help the audiences I am trying to reach so that the content and information I provide is compelling and really meets their needs. This is what sets you apart from the crowd. What will make the difference for your customers, so that you are truly helping them while reinforcing your brand and messages? Throughout the book, Baer provides creative, pragmatic examples of how different kinds of organizations from small to large are using Youtility to engage and help their audiences and what their process and results have been.

“If you sell something, you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life.” -Jay Baer

He walks you through a six-step process he recommends for building Youtility into your business after examining three key traditional approaches to building awareness for organizations and how the marketplace is completely changing. I highly recommend this quick read for anyone concerned about marketing or branding your organization or products/services for the future. Jay Baer is a marketing and social media expert and author of the popular Convince & Convert blog which I also recommend reading regularly.

 

Impact EquationThe Impact Equation by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

If you are planning to launch a new business, product, or service, this book is a great guide to help you map out your vision and pragmatic path to success. Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, successful entrepreneurs and social business leaders, share their experiences and formula for success based on the acronym IMPACT = C x (R + E+ A + T + E). The CREATE acronym stands for the attributes needed to create your impact that the authors walks you through step by step: Contrast, Reach, Exposure, Articulation, Trust, and Echo.

The Impact Equation provides the wisdom and insights Brogan and Smith have gleaned from their successes and working with their many clients. The attributes are grouped into four sections that give you guiding principles – goals, ideas, platform, and human element. The authors weave in many examples of how different entrepreneurs and organizations use these techniques and aspects to literally “create” their success.

While you’re reading the book it might prove useful to set up a simple chart or spreadsheet listing the attributes and jot notes about how you currently are or might plan to handle each aspect for your business, product or service. I read it right before launching my startup Gooseling’s first children’s app Cavity Dragons and found it very useful for checking whether we’d thought sufficiently through our vision and plan for both our business and the app.

Both Chris Brogan and Julien Smith have blogs and email newsletters (you can sign up for their newsletters on their respective web sites) that are great reads as well.

Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg by Ekaterina Walter
ThinkLikeZuck-bookThis book justifiably received a great deal of business buzz for delving thoughtfully into what made facebook and in particular Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership style so successful. But this quick read also explores other renowned business success stories in the framework of the five principles author Ekaterina Walter identifies as key to that success – passion, purpose, people, product, and partnerships. I’ve followed and admired Ekaterina Walter for several years, she was a social media leader at Intel until co-founding the branding/marketing firm Branderati.

“Passion + Action = Results” – Ekaterina Walter

Walter offers an intriguing inside look at the launch and evolution of facebook as a business as well as its impact on our lives and how Mark Zuckerberg’s strengths and challenges played a role in each stage of development. While Walter discusses the ingenuity and success stories of a variety of entrepreneurs (e.g. TOMS, CollegeHumor, Threadless, and Dyson), she also explores the vital role intrapreneurs play in organizations and shares examples. David Armano, Executive Vice President of Edelman Digital, defined intrapreneurs as “someone who has an entrepreneurial streak in his or her DNA, but chooses to align his or her talents with a large organization in place of creating his or her own.”

As Walter says, “Organizations small and large need intrapreneurs. In an era of constant change, not one single company can afford complacency. True disruption happens when entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well within an organization. And that spirit is cultivated and spread by intrapreneurs–those on the forefront of change, those passionate enough to activate the principles discussed in this book within their own organization.”

Ekaterina Walter also has a must-read blog and writes regularly for Forbes, Fast Company, Huffington Post, and Entrepreneur.

Are You Ready for Launch? A Checklist for Success

I haven’t posted a new article for a while as I’ve been super busy launching my first video game app Cavity Dragons, designed to motivate kids to brush their teeth. I co-founded my business Gooseling, Inc. with my sister and fellow Mompreneur Vicky Keston to teach children social and life skills through Gooseling Logovideo games with the on-the-go convenience of iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch. So I thought what better topic to share here then tips based on my experiences launching new products and services.

When you’re getting ready to launch a major new product or service whether through a start up or established business, making sure you have thought carefully through the various aspects will prepare you for the busy whirlwind to come – and most importantly for success.

Here is a checklist of the key issues to make sure you have covered before you officially launch:

Your unique message and brand.  How will you differentiate your product from the competition? What is the branding and feeling you want to paint paletteevoke? What need does it fill? How does this messaging fit with your organization’s overall brand and messaging? Plan and articulate the messaging and make sure everyone has it to ensure cohesive, strong communications.

Your potential customer’s needs and wants. How you will reach them and why should they buy/use your product?

Review the resources, people, and skills needed to ensure a smooth launch.

Your publicity, marketing, and social media tactics which flow from your overall business and marketing strategy. What are the communication outlets (including the social media sites/communities) and tactics you have decided will have the best impact to meet your goals? How will you use content marketing – providing truly useful information – to help solve your customers’ problems and answer their potential questions that will help build your brand and business? For example, my sister and I started a parenting blog at gooseling.com/blog to provide useful information and advice on a wide variety of parenting issues in an effort to help parents, teachers, and practitioners while also building trust and our community.

Predict potential problems or issues that might arise and how you will handle them. We want to think everything will run smoothly, but in our question markimperfect world it is most likely that you’ll encounter some glitches. Watching for possible pain points and thinking about how and who might handle them will help you respond quickly if something does go wrong in the busy midst of launch. What are likely questions or issues might customers might have? Envision each step of the process from attracting their interest through serving their needs throughout the sales and service process.

Customer service, fulfillment and operations processes. Make sure all processes of who will do what are clearly articulated. You might think it should be obvious but in my experience surprises can arise when we assume everyone knows what their role is and it hasn’t been talked through. Visually mapping out the processes from when a customer inquires through completion of an order or delivery of a service labeled with the names of individuals or teams who will handle each step can help avoid last minute glitches.

How will you measure success? Sales and revenue are obvious , but are there other measures that will be important to show whether you are reaching your goals? For example, if you are a small start up with no name recognition building that reputation can take some time, so having some measures around chart baraudience engagement could be pivotal. If you are a larger, well established company you might have other related goals for your product launch such as how it helps sales in an ancillary product line or in addressing a concern customers have expressed in the past that you will want to measure response to.

Be flexible and prepared to change your marketing plan or other key strategies based on market response and the results you see.

Keep some work balance among key players to avoid burnout during the busy long days of launch. It’s an exciting but stressful time that usually involves crazy long hours, some time for rest and staying healthy is important.

Make sure you have a solid business plan, marketing plan, contracts, legal (including copyright/trademark issues), and other business aspects nailed down.

Plan how you’ll share the key documents like the marketing plan and task list and keep each other posted on progress and the sales and audience response.

What have you found most important in launching your new products or services?