Category Archives: 4CDesignWorks

Technology Can Lower Job Stress

I recently stumbled across an article regarding stressful jobs and I had some pretty specific thoughts about it. So I looked to technology and created this blog post!

usa today stress jobs

USA Today posted Forbes’ list of the most stressful careers. Many of these careers involve elements of danger, or they feature long or irregular hours. Here’s what they came up with:

• Police or detective                                                             • Military service member

• Firefighter                                                                              • Pilot

• Event coordinator                                                              • Senior corporate executive

• Public relations executive                                              • Newspaper reporter

While I’m of the belief that much of the stress people complain about at work is self-induced, I’m also of the belief that certain positions will always and forever be stressful. In my opinion active military, law enforcement and fire fighters, emergency room doctors and most other personnel in the ER, members of the bomb squad, skyscraper window washers and bridge painters (Imagine being up that high!), school teachers and day care workers – that’s stress!

But an event planner?

Stress - business person stressed at office. Business woman holdPhoto credit:  Arianna Huffington’s Tips for Managing Stress – Not Just for Event Planners!

Now, let me just say that I have friends who are event planners. I also have been involved in the planning of many events – business and personal. Yes, there is stress involved. No, it should not be on a list of most stressful jobs.

Let me explain.

Start to finish there are steps that need to be taken to pull off a successful event. These steps can be as simple or complex as you make them. Let’s talk about a few, and let’s keep focus on business events. Think speaker series, seminars, and networking mixers.

Location: You know what “they” say… Location, location, location!
Theme: This includes decorations, entertainment, speakers and / or panel, and even the food and beverage menu.
Menu: There are so many options now that Pittsburgh has become a “foodie” city! Sit down dinner, buffet, waiter-passed appetizers? A lot of this depends on theme and budget.
Guest list: Who is invited and…
• Promotion: How will you get them there, and keep track of who’s who?
Follow up: How do you keep people coming to your events? How do you continue to entice new attendees to show up?

Every single bullet point has a technology component to it. Every. Single. One.

Location:  You’re going to use Google to find cool places to host this event right? You’ll be in business if you can take a virtual tour of venues.
Theme: One word: Pinterest
Menu: If a restaurant or caterer doesn’t have a website… well, you know.
Guest list: You better have the contact information of every single company who you consider your audience and competition;  and your current and potential clients. And you need to have it organized.
• Promotion: Online registration is key. Capture all the information when they register and use it for… you guessed it… follow up!
Follow up: Send out a “Thank You” for attending email with a simple survey asking what they liked – and didn’t like – about your event. Start to finish. From the way you initially contacted them to invite them, to the venue, theme, food, others in attendance, and most importantly – what they would do to make the next event better. Then LISTEN to them. Or if all else fails, just use this app to gauge your audience’s facial expressions.

technology-and-eventsPhoto credit: StartYourBusinessMag.com

Sure, there are software packages out there that you can buy. Open the box and start plugging away. But if you’re a perfectionist like me, you’ll work much better with something personalized. A system that has all the bells and whistles that suit you, your company, and your goals. Guess what?

We have the people who can actually plan events for you, or create software – and even an app – for that.

Seriously? Yes, seriously. Give me a call or shoot me an email (Here’s where that crazy technology comes in handy, again!) and I’ll explain. Don’t be a statistic, be an event planning rock star and let technology (and 4C) help!

After the Holidays Marketing How-To

The holiday season isn’t just an important time of year for the retail industry – it’s an excellent marketing opportunity for all businesses. Whether you’re looking to increase awareness about your brand, gain customers, or simply keep your current clients engaged – there are a few out-of-the-box ideas that can have people talking well into the summer months.

Host a holiday get together – after the holidays. Wait until the dust settles and invite clients and prospects to your office in mid- to late-January or even in February. Make it a winter themed event (think blue and silver), have a simple buffet, a few passed hors d’ oeuvres and a signature cocktail. Caterers may even be willing to work within a tighter budget to get business during an otherwise slow time of the year. The themes and possibilities are endless! Make this a relaxed social event, a networking opportunity – not a sales session. Show the customers you’ve been serving or courting all year that you appreciate them and want to continue to stay in contact through 2016 – and beyond.

Beautiful silver gift

Schedule an Account Review. A new year is a perfect opportunity to reflect on past challenges and future plans. Everyone is starting fresh after a long holiday break. Take advantage of this renewed energy and schedule an account review session with your clients!

Send “Happy New Year” cards. Holiday cards are great, but a card arriving in the first few weeks of January, wishing your clients and prospects a fruitful and successful year, won’t get overlooked in the excess of Christmas cheer. Use this vehicle to promote your brand and create awareness about what you do, all while sending best wishes for the coming year. And send real paper cards with a mailing address and a stamp!

happy new year gold

Take advantage of New Year’s resolutions. We all make them (or at least say we did) and rarely follow through. Target specific prospects with an email or phone call offering a free consultation to bring them back to discussions you had the previous year.

“So Jim, I’m thinking your New Year’s resolution should be to really get serious about your company’s outreach. Let me come in and talk to you about your marketing and public relations efforts. We can chat about updating your website and brand too, if time allows. Let’s set up 30 minutes, before the year gets away from us!”

Your goal for the New Year? Make a new marketing initiative commitment (I won’t call it a resolution) – and follow through. None of these options have to be expensive or complicated. With a little creativity and excitement you can do more than you think!

 

 

 

 

 

Tips to Increase your SEO

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One of the key factors we often look at when building or rebuilding a website is Search Engine Optimization. The term “Search Engine Optimization” is well known as “SEO” and has been a hot topic for the past several years. Ever since Google was just a twinkle in some tech-guys eye, back in the late ’90s.

SEO is one heckova buzzword that gets used extremely often. In many cases the demand from a company is “We want to be on the first page of results when we search” or “If we aren’t number 1, then why do we have a website?” – some may find this odd, but increasing SEO is no easy task. There are a number of activities that can be done to help increase your company searchability.

Continue reading Tips to Increase your SEO

Take the “Work” Out of Networking

Contributed by Business Development Manager, Joe Gastony

Sometimes, it’s not what you know it’s WHO you know. These words have never been truer than for those in business development and sales positions. And this is why I network. I want to discuss the importance of networking in a day and age where we are all glued to our smartphones, and social networks have taken the human contact out of daily life. Sure LinkedIn, emails and blog posts are important – but if you are trying to grow your book of business, and increase industry knowledge, networking is crucial.

fear

For many people, networking can be challenging… even frightening. But fear not because networking events are all about people meeting new people and trying to find ways to HELP one another. With this in mind networking is way less intimidating!

Here are the top 4 reasons why I network:

Build CONFIDENCE! Pushing yourself to talk to people you don’t know increases confidence.

Build FRIENDSHIPS! People like to do business with people they like. Go ahead make some friends at your next networking event.

Increase OPPORTUNITIES! All sales people know the key to a successful business is a large sales funnel. Networking is a great way to increase sales opportunities. Also the more people who know about you and what you do, the more likely they are to refer you to others.

Increase KNOWLEDGE! Sometimes it is not WHO you know it’s WHAT you know. I recommend industry specific networking if you can. People in specific industries respect others that care and are knowledgeable about their industry. Increase your knowledge and you increase your credibility.

networking

Think about these tips the next time you find yourself entering a room where you don’t know anyone… and leave with some new connections, and maybe even some new friends.

 

Best Places to Work: A Two Way Street

Contributed by Director of Strategic Planning & Development, Kathy Olek Donatelli

Co-workers have told me I know lots of people here in the ‘Burgh.

This is usually followed by some acknowledgement that I am pretty traditional.

Check that, they tell me I am old school.

OK, truth be told, I’m just old.

During my 30+ year career in marketing here in Pittsburgh, (yikes!) I have worked at large Fortune 500 companies with a marketing budget of hundreds of thousands.  I have worked out of my house with two young knee-biters playing at my feet.  I have worked for start up businesses, and for companies that are national, regional and locally based.  I have worked downtown as well as in the north, south, east and west sides of the city.  I have worked for great leaders with poor teams and poor leaders with great teams.  I also worked for nothing but a daily hug as a homemaker and a mom.

What makes a great place to work?  To me, work is just like home…it’s where your heart is!  You know the old saying, do what you love and you’ll always love what you do?  Sure, that’s part of it.  But in order to better understand the potential satisfaction associated with any given job, you first have to take salary, benefits and retirement plans out of the equation in order to more closely evaluate your position and how you truly feel about where you work…or where you are about to work.  Because let’s face it, money and medical coverage is extremely important from family perspective. But as I have learned through my years and years…and years of experience…money ain’t everything.

twostreet

When evaluating if your company, or a potential new company, is an ideal match for you and your personality, here are some base line questions you need to ask yourself.

  • Will you like the people you work with? Trust them, admire them?
  • Will your work environment help you grow in your career?
  • Can you make a viable contribution to the success of the company?
  • Will you fit in with the culture of the company?
  • Will you be challenged? Will you learn new things?
  • Does the company have vision?
  • Would you recommend your company to a close friend?
  • Will they give you 100% support in your role?

Don’t be blinded by the fancy stuff….a gym membership, chair massages, an in-house cafeteria and taking your dog to work may help sweeten the pot, but these perks are really just poor substitutes.  Take it from someone who has been around the block as far as jobs go, it’s the human element that make the most difference:  Recognition for a job well done, a feeling of accomplishment, unity, working through problem/solution scenarios, comradery, teamwork and belonging are also important factors in evaluating any work environment.

And oh, by the way, while we are busy evaluating what makes a good place to work, REMEMBER — your employer is also evaluating what makes a good employee.  And they also have their own list of wanna-haves that they most likely consult during the interview process.  And not surprisingly, this list seems strangely familiar:

  • Will I like this person? Trust them, admire them?
  • Are they willing to make a commitment to self-growth in their career?
  • Will they help me and my company succeed?
  • Will they help mold and contribute to the culture of the company?
  • Do they want to be challenged and learn new things?
  • Do they have vision?
  • Would you recommend this employee for another job with close friend?
  • Will they give 100% to the company?

From where I sit, a “good place to work” is a TWO WAY STREET.  To me, it depends equally as much on the employer as it does the employee in the amount of contribution and sacrifice they are both willing to make to be successful as a cohesive team.

At this writing, my company for the last ten years, 4CTechnologies, is in the running for Best Places to Work Award from the Pittsburgh Business Times in the small business category.  We won’t find out if we have won until the end of October.

4c_BestPlacesToWorkAward2015_social_linkedinBannerIMG

I am pulling for a win and as we wait for the verdict, I want to publically acknowledge that I love my job…mostly because of all of the wonderful people I get to see and work with every day.  They make the hours fly by and their support and knowledge have made me a better professional.  (Oh, and that mustached guy in the corner office is OK too!)  No question, it feels like home and I certainly hope that a win for 4CTechnologies is in the “cards.”  Fingers crossed!