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Work-Life Balance: What is It and How Do You Achieve It?

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People use the phrase “work-life balance” often, and it’s even become a selling point for companies who want to attract new talent. In this way, the elusive “work-life balance” has in a sense become a benefit of employment, much in the same way that health insurance or vacation days are benefits. But how do you define this phrase, and more importantly, how do you REALLY achieve it?

From our perspective, work-life balance is a moving target, something that cannot be given one definition. We think that it looks different for every person – the difficult part is deciding what it looks like for yourself, and then implementing activities and habits to achieve your own personal balance. This is why it is difficult to quantify, and even more difficult to compare. There are so many variables at play, and below are just a few examples of work-life balance.

Example A: “The Work-IS-Life Balance”

These are often entrepreneurs who are energetic, full of ideas, and LOVE what they do. Perhaps they have grown a business to the point where it “runs itself.” Perhaps they have sold a business and are working on their next venture. Either way, they really like working, and sometimes, they have several businesses that they are working on (and in), and because they love what they do so much, they end up spending the majority of their time working. For them, however, a lot of this work is enjoyable and thus considered free-time activities.

Example B: “Work Hard, Play Hard”

This person works a lot, and is always on top of their work. They probably at least like what they do, if not love it, and so they don’t mind spending an above average amount of time at work. However, when they do take time for themselves, they make it count. They may go on adventurous vacations where they completely disconnect and immerse themselves in their activities or perhaps they prefer a more relaxing island getaway – either way, they achieve work-life balance by trying to fully immerse themselves in what they are doing, whether it is work or play.

Example C: “Treat Yourself”

When this person leaves work, they leave it completely. They do not believe in overworking and spend a good amount of time on self-care and family activities. They believe that there are more important things to life than working and making money, and they prefer to spend their time on those things. They will not be found in the office on the weekends or evenings, unless it’s required.

Example D: “Balancing Act”

This person works a lot and always seems frazzled. They try to make time for family and friends, but this ends up stressing them out even more because they feel like they’ve neglected their to-do list. They just can’t seem to catch up. One of the main problems this person faces is not balance, per-se, but time management. Perhaps if they could learn how to manage their schedule a bit better and use their time more wisely, their work-life balance would be more harmonious and they wouldn’t feel so frazzled.

These are just a few archetypes that we’ve noticed over the years. What does your work-life balance look like?

Nikki Devereux Named Tampa Bay Business Journal Up and Comer

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Pinstripe Marketing Senior Project Manager, Nikki Devereux was named a Tampa Bay Business Journal Up and Comer, Class of 2017 by an independent panel of judges. She was chosen as one of 60 of her peers in the business community, out of a pool of more than 400 nominees. This is a group who do their best to make the Tampa Bay area the best community it can be. From leadership to community service, these Up and Comers are making the world a better place. We are proud of Nikki and look forward to cheering her on as she continues to do her best in work, life and community.

View the list of 2017 Up and Comers here.

Setting Client Expectations

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You’re talking to a prospective client. How would you present the work your company does? What might you say about your company’s productive efficiency. How responsive are you to client needs? What would you say about the professionalism of your staff? How important is corporate responsibility?

We’d guess our readers always answer these questions exactly to same way, even if talking to their BFF at their favorite bar and after a drink or three. But for others, there may be glaring discrepancies between some of the answers in first scenario and those in a relaxed, non-selling situation. If that’s the case, it’s reasonable to worry that somebody’s business is off to a bad start managing client expectations.

We know the temptation to oversell. A good company that provides a worthwhile product or service and operated by a competent staff of decent people can suddenly become a socially crusading, budding Amazon, led by super heroes (but with a gentle, caring touch) and providing a better ROI opportunity than the ground floor investment in Microsoft.

Okay, that might be a little hyperbolic, but few prospective clients come away from a sales pitch expecting to frequently hear the word “no” to future requests. And when there has been too much “gilding the lily,” someone is not going to be happy. Interestingly, that someone is often the business owner and her or his staff.

Unless a company is run by true rip-off artists, most clients can walk away from bad business relationships having merely lost a little time and not quite getting what they thought their money was worth. More often, the real suffering comes to the other side of the equation as businesspeople take on unprofitable jobs that require excessive workloads. The probable outcome is a painful, ultimately fruitless attempt to hang on to a difficult client.

So how does one prevent (or handle) this predicament? Well, here are our thoughts:

  • Appreciate your own worth. For contractors and others in professional services industries there can be a tendency to take on work for too low a fee because “something is better than nothing.” Often this is accompanied with the rationalization that one can raise rates later. (Why would a client agree to that?) It can be same with willingness to accommodate abnormal business hours. Make your standard prices understood upfront and don’t give the impression that you’re anyone’s indentured servant.
  • Lead with your value proposition. You’re not exceptional at everything, because no one is exceptional at everything. If someone claims to be, you know they’re lying. When selling, make your top value proposition clear to the prospect and be realistic about other aspects of your business. Don’t be afraid; a strong value proposition should appeal to a lot of clients, and others may like enough of everything else they hear to give you a fair trial. You can’t win them all, and you don’t want to lose by “winning.”
  • Listen to what your client is saying. Rarely do prospective clients hide what’s important to them. In fact, they usually mention it quite often, especially if they’ve been previously disappointed. If their demands have been a problem for others in your line of work, they might be a challenge to you as well. Carefully and thoughtfully evaluate what prospects want and let them know where you can, and where you might not, meet their expectations.
  • Lower the bar. We joke and say that every client wants everything yesterday, but thankfully that’s not (always) true. People may be quite reasonable in their expectations—they simply don’t want to be disappointed. What if you made your costs estimates a little higher than you truly anticipate and your set deadlines a little further out than you think necessary. Then you could watch your client’s delighted reaction when you can charge less than you initially said and you get the work done faster than promised!
  • Play up the client success stories that you’d want to repeat. Testimonials and case studies make for excellent sales collateral, but be careful about how you present these stories to prospects. When you go far above and beyond the call of duty for a client, perhaps you should keep the specifics to yourself and share the client’s appreciation in a brief testimonial. And when you’ve done a great job following your normal procedures, that’s the time to go into the details with a lengthier case study.
  • If you’re having trouble competing, look for the cause and make changes. Suppose you’re regularly disappointing your clients while killing yourself and your employees, AND losing money for your trouble. Then you notice your competition seems to be doing fine. It’s time for some research. Try to figure out what advantages your competitors have and see how you can even things up. If the advantages are inherent (like a better location) find out how others in your situation have coped and emulate them. Be prepared to change your marketing strategies to better attract the available audience, rather than continuing to push the same old boulder up the mountain.
  • Be willing to give up. You may have heard the saying, “Winners never quit and quitters never win,” but we have another one: “He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.” Some jobs and/or clients are simply not worth the effort and never will be. Don’t run yourself or your business into the ground trying to make something happen that can’t. After you’ve done your best but simply can’t make an arrangement work for everyone, thank the impossible client for the opportunity and bid them a fond farewell.

As Dirty Harry once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations” … and so does his (or her) client.

Keep It Fresh!

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No one likes stale bread, stale news, or stale anything. Neither does the Googlebot. Savvy marketers know that the Googlebot looks beyond keywords embedded within a website. The Googlebot looks for frequent content updates to websites, often found in blogs, videos, press releases, and case studies. They call it crawling. These frequent updates increase the chances that a site will be placed higher in the search results.

It makes perfect sense if you think about it, because embedded keywords alone won’t bring the best search results. The world’s biggest and best search engine reaches around the globe for new and interesting content to fulfill their users’ search parameters. The trick is to keep your site fresh and looking new.

DIY

The do-it-yourself method of updating the company blog, special events, success stories, and general news requires planning and commitment of many employee hours. Let’s not forget, it also requires some creativity, which means you need to step away from the noise of the day and devote three or four hours to writing one piece.

Before publishing it, always remember to edit your material, either a couple times by yourself or have one of your coworkers help you. It’s hard to get your thoughts on the page to read exactly how you want them (even for seasoned professional writers), so please be careful when you do-it-yourself.

Time Is Money

Hiring a firm to do the writing also means you’re hiring them to plan, organize, and execute it. The cost may seem out of reach at first, but when you add up all the hours you would be spending on a properly run plan, you’ll see that it will make you money over the long-run. If you’re the owner of the company or head of marketing, that time spent writing could be time spent doing more pressing work and contributing to the bottom line.

Here’s a good example. In one week, your company may need to write a blog post and a press release. These take a professional writer less than 10 hours to complete. On average, it will take an inexperienced writer double that time.

Some Accounting Required

If you do the math, you’ll see how hiring a firm to handle the constant flow of updates to your site can save you money. More importantly, it will allow you to focus on what you do best, so you can increase revenue and profit.

Within a month or two of frequent updates, the Googlebot will reward your company by ranking it higher than before. Trust us. We’ve seen it happen, time and again. Let us know if we can help.

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