Dear Friends,

Welcome to a new year brimming with new opportunities!

The past 12 months have been challenging for many of us, yet as we look back, there were plenty of signs that all is not gloom and doom. One of our long-time clients, Marketing Direct, not only was ranked one of America’s fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine for the third consecutive year, but MDI was acquired by a national company, KBM Group of Richardson, Texas. We are so proud of Dennis Barnes and his team for this major milestone.

We also saw an increase in start-up businesses as we welcomed Doctors Express, St. Louis Daily Deals, The Credit Care Company and Nichols Stopp & VanHoy to our client roster. And in the coming months we will be adding more fledgling enterprises. We are truly honored that they have chosen our agency to help guide them through the marketing maze and help them succeed, and we promise to use all our creativity and connections to brand and promote them.

Our New Year’s gift to you is to continue to provide you with practical advice and cutting edge marketing information to help you manage your business. Whether you’re a client, colleague or friend, we are happy to “pay it forward” and share our knowledge and experience. In return, we appreciate any referrals you send our way – and we’ll be delighted to return the favor. Together, we can have a truly winnsng year!

Iris Signature

How to Tame the Unwieldy Inbox

How many hours a day do you spend in front of the computer? A recent statistic claimed people now spend almost seven hours a day online. Spam it, that’s a lot of email…

Here are five ways to manage your inbox:

  1. Use an auto responder. Try setting up an automatic email to respond to every incoming message with an answer such as, “I appreciate your email and will respond to it as soon as possible. If this is urgent or pressing, please call me. Thanks.” People who know you well enough to call, can, and everyone else will have to wait.
  2. Publish an email policy. Since most people respond to old emails when they contact you, if they see a sentence or two at the end of your online correspondence stating how you respond to emails, they’ll know what to expect.
  3. Schedule it. The trouble with email is that is can—and will—interrupt you all day. So try a different approach. Only respond to your email at appointed times of the day. Check it in the morning, after lunch, and before you leave for the day. This allows you to put the inbox out of your mind and focus on doing actual work.
  4. Use the good old phone. How many times have you gone back and forth on an email exchange, only to finally conclude that a five minute phone call could have answered all of the issues? Exactly. And how much time did that string of emails take? Exactly. Set down the keyboard and back away from the mouse.
  5. Declare e-mail bankruptcy. In 2007, venture capitalist Fred Wilson posted on his blog the following: “I am so far behind on e-mail that I am declaring bankruptcy. If you’ve sent me an e-mail (and you aren’t my wife, partner, or colleague), you might want to send it again. I am starting over.” Of course this is a radical solution, but if you have 2,500 emails in your inbox like some people do, it may not seem so radical after all. Another idea is to set up a second email account – separate from your home email -- for personal emails. You can always purge that account without risking offending business contacts.
  6. Assign it to an assistant: As opposed to outsourcing email to a stranger, if you have an assistant, assigning much of your email correspondence is not a difficult thing to do. If you do not have one, bringing in even a part-time assistant can free you up to be more productive. Just blind cc your correspondence to him or her and let that person handle the routine stuff.
  7. Schedule an exact amount of time for email responses. This is the best way to stay efficient. If you know you only have 15 minutes to answer your email, you’ll stay on top of things more successfully than if you just schedule it for “after lunch.”

Some information provided by Steve Strauss, The Strauss Group, Inc.

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