Yesterday afternoon it poured. I was at the Lexington Farmer’s Market and the skies just opened. I think I spent at least $30 more than I planned because in a futile attempt to stay dry I slipped under every canopy from the gelato stand to my car and naturally felt obligated to buy something from each vendor. When I got home the weather had cleared for a moment and I snapped a few shots. I love how Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington is so timeless. It could be 1960, 1980, 2011, you really can’t tell most of the time.
Written communication with clients, like email, or messages via Basecamp, these are some ways to track expectations, changes, and requests. It doesn’t hurt to have a paper trail to keep everyone accountable. But is it expedient to dig through every email exchange between you and a client or vendor? What of phone conversations, or meetings, or off the cuff remarks that come back to haunt you six months later, how do you track those? What if you have one of those clients who insist on giving you edits verbally over the phone—which really has to be the worst thing ever, don’t you think? Some people, no matter how much you push back, insist on giving edits over the phone? Why? You know they are the same people who will come back at you a week later and tell you that’s not what they asked for—but I digress. The point is; how do you track all of this communication and keep yourself accountable?
I use Evernote. There are so many uses for Evernote, in fact, it’s such a flexible tool, I wasn’t sure how to incorporate it into my workflow at first. Did I use it as a virtual moodboard, to collect things that inspired me? Could I build a notebook of all my favorite ukulele songs and carry them with me on my iPhone or iPad? I could, and I did. But it didn’t click for me in those capacities. I really wanted to use it, Andrew Sinkov, the marketing guy at Evernote, is a former client of mine from his previous gig, and I wanted to support him in his new venture. And you know I like my applications to be affordable and universal, and Evernote is both. Then I found this blog entry about using Evernote as a Relationship Manager and it all clicked.
Now, whenever I interact with a contact, client, vendor, potential client, I make a note. Sometimes I schedule a follow-up action, sometimes I just jot down the content of the interaction and leave it be. It’s rarely more than a line or two. However, when a vendor tries to tell me that I didn’t mention that we’re brewing beer the first week of July, in a click I can tell him exactly when we had that conversation, what his response was, and if it was via email, I have a time/date stamp to help me find the actual correspondence to forward back to him.
Should I meet with a potential client, I can make quick notes about his schedule and intentions. Then I time my follow-up for when he expected he might need my services. It helps to note things that come up in conversation, like, maybe he enjoys water skiing. So I when I reach out to him about that direct mail project he was considering me for, I can ask if he has enjoyed any good water skiing outings this summer. It’s not that I don’t pay attention and listen, it’s just that Evernote helps me remember what I heard.
With a client who has a lot of balls in the air, I can use Evernote to help him keep track of projects he’s mentioned, but then stuck on the back burner because he’s got a lot on his plate. That’s a potential paying project that could slip through my fingers because a goal has lost priority, but if I can bring him back to the reason why he wanted to publish that brochure, or build that web site, that’s me looking out for both my client and my bottom-line.
Evernote is one of the most popular applications out there. I don’t have to sell anyone on that. But as a tool for keeping your footing in the vicious undertow of communication, it is invaluable.
Have you ever had a roommate who didn’t help with chores? (Note to friends from college: Yes, I know, I was that roommate.) Can you recall the moment when they did do something, like the dishes, or take out the trash, and they expected kudos and bozo buttons for their efforts and you thought, “No. You’re supposed to do that every day!” Maintaining social media can be like that.
For example, I have not blogged in over a week. I am busy. I have stuff to do. I am important. Not important enough to want to tell you all about the stuff I have to do, apparently. But hey, I built the blog, didn’t I? I uploaded some of my work to the portfolio, right? I tweet. Not in the past few days, but I do, I tweet. I did the dishes. Where’s my bozo button?
One of the things keeping me in the weeds was my ukulele meetup group hosted a “Ukulele Melee” at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum last Thursday. (Note: I did not promote said event on my site anywhere. Bad Stacey! Bad!) I was responsible for posters and building up the event on our Facebook and Twitter. We also issued press releases to the local papers and radio stations and posted announcements on ukulele related websites. We did the advance work and it paid off, big time. The museum barely had enough room to contain us all. Between the attendants in the performance hall and the random ukers picnicking and jamming around the sculpture park, the conservative estimate was over 300 people. I think we expected maybe 100–150. It was really successful.
So, joy, happiness, all these new people asking about our meetup group. One fellow suggested that he would like to start a North Shore branch. There’s been a jump in people following our Twitter feed and “liking” our Facebook page. Whether you run a meetup group, a business, a blog, a band, this is what you live for, that surge, that buzz. Then, over the weekend, our leadership committee sent an email to the club announcing that we were going on hiatus until September. It was like that roommate. “Look! I did it! I cleaned the bathroom. It’s done. Now I will ignore it for a month until it is back to the grody, post-kegger bathroom we had before.” What was the point of cleaning it in the first place? What was the point of finding all these people who also like ukulele, telling them about our awesome group and and then putting it on the back burner until they forget all about us?
You’ve got to do it every day, people. You’ve got to build the buzz and maintain it. You’ve got to reach out to those who like your brand and remind them why they liked it in the first place. Otherwise, what’s the point?
So, I’m sorry, for slacking on my blog. I will try to be better about posting, even if it’s about something silly like my extra-curricular ukulele activities. Now, I’m off to plan a hiatus meetup for my group, sans leadership committee. I don’t want to lose momentum.