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    2 Ways To Stay Focused - Free Time Tracking Template

    Feb/15/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    In this post I cover 2 unique ways and a FREE Resource to help you stay focused while working.

    Ok, so today I must admit I struggled with maintaining my focus while in the studio. I had a number of distractions. We had a band come in and perform, The Dunwells (Killer band by the way. Check 'em out at www.thedunwells.com) and they brought in lunch.

    Then there was the herding of various people to voice scripts, the rush before a 3 day weekend and yaddah, yaddah....

    Ever have one of those days where hours seem to go by and toward the end of the day you look at the pile of work and it has grown?

    Yeah - today's been one of those days.

    Here are 2 techniques I use when trying to regain focus and/or crank through a lot of material.

    • The Mighty Egg Timer
    • Time Tracking
    First the Egg Timer (There's mine in the upper right)

    While I don't recommend you use it while recording, there are plenty of other activities where you can use it to enhance productivity, like editing, writing, checking email, research, time on social media, even phone calls.

    How do you use it? Set the timer for a period of time. I like to set it for 30 minutes. Some people like 20 minutes, others 40 minutes. I find 30 minutes works best for me.

    So I set it for 30 minutes and I GO. I write, edit, load spots, check email - whatever and I go at it for 30 minutes non-stop. When the bell goes off I stop.

    I take a 5 to 10 minute break and then I set it again for another 30 minutes and I go at it again. I kinda play "Beat The Clock" with myself and I do this consistently throughout the work day.

    I get an AMAZING amount accomplished.

    Here's The Trick

    The trick is that you can't do something else while you're working on a project during that 30 minute time block.

    For example, if you've set the timer for 30 minutes of editing - then spend the 30 minutes editing. Don't have the email open and when the little bubble pops up saying you've got a new message you stop and go check your email. NOOOOO!

    Shut off the email for the 30 minutes and focus on the editing.

    Set the timer again and use that block to check email.

    Multi-Tasking is... in a word... uh... bullshit. Many people might think they can check email and edit at the same time, but what they're really doing is stopping to check email. Then they go back to editing. That slows things down dramatically.

    Substitute any other 2 activities like texting and driving and you get the same result. Neither activity gets "done" very well and sometimes with tragic consequences.

    Next Item...

    Time Tracking - and FREE Resource

    Take a sheet of paper or create a spreadsheet with the day broken up into 15 minute segments down the left column.

    If you'd like a free PDF of my tracking sheet template that I use, just click here.

    Then in each 15 minute segment you write down what you did during those 15 minutes.

    You Have To Be BRUTALLY Honest

    To get the full benefit of this exercise you have to be BRUTALLY honest with yourself. If you find yourself hesitating to write down what you actually did during that block of time, that alone should tell you something.

    Two things will happen. You will get more accomplished in a shorter amount of time and you will start to see how much time you really spend on non-productive activities.

    Do this for a full week (2 weeks are even better) and you'll start to notice patterns of activity. You might even start to notice certain times of day are more or less productive than others. That helps you adjust your activities to best suit the most productive times of day for you.

    To Make It Work You Need To Be Discipline

    Yes, it may be tedious to do this and it will take some self discipline, but it will be well worth the effort.

    I find I need to do this exercise every few months to help me get refocused. It's a very powerful tool. If you haven't downloaded the template yet, take a moment and click here to do so.

    What Do You Do?

    These are a couple of my ideas. What do you do to maintain focus? I'd love to hear your thoughts and learn any tips you may have.

    How To Resurrect a Lost Client

    Feb/13/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    Here’s an interesting idea you can use to resurrect a client that you haven’t heard from in a while.

    Send them a note, or an email saying “You’re sorry you haven’t kept in touch with them.”

    It works.

    Look at the sample email below. It helped me resume producing messages on hold for a client I hadn’t done any work for in over 3 years!

    This was a client who would previously contact me only twice a year and then just stopped. I would reach out to them from time to time to see if we could resume producing the messages, but nothing ever really came of it until I tried this little gem.

    Note: Contact Name and company have been changed and certain specifics have been removed for corporate privacy reasons, but the integrity of the messages remain in tact.

    My Message:

    TO: Kathy

    FROM: John

    SUBJECT: Sorry I Haven’t Been in Touch….

    Hi Kathy-

    I wanted to apologize for not getting in touch with you sooner about updating ___’s Messages On Hold. I know we discussed it briefly during the party for Jim late last year, but I have been so busy I just let it slip.

    Anyway, I’ve had a little down time and thought I would send you a quick message to see where we stood on the updates. The next couple of weeks are good for me, but I’m going to be out of town early next month and want to put the project into my schedule as soon as possible.

    I’ll talk to you soon, and thanks!

    John

    Kathy’s Reply

    Hey John,

    You must be reading my mind. I’ve been meaning to get these things updated. They’re really sounding old, but it’s tough to find the time to get you new message scripts….

    Let me know what we need to do and how much it will cost and I’ll get back to you soon.

    Thanks!

    Kathy

    What Happened Next?

    I solved her lack of time problem. I told her I would write the scripts myself, if she just provided me with her usual press releases and other information sources she regularly distributed. All she needed to do was put me on the email list and I would pull pieces of information and put the scripts together.

    I also recommended a schedule of 12 updates for the year. And I doubled the price of what I had charged them before per set of messages. I let her pre-pay the whole year in advance and offered her a small bookkeeping discount for doing so.

    She said she would get 5 updates for the year and would pre-pay for the year and take the bookkeeping discount.

    Fine. I had just increased the number of messages I produced for them from Zero to Five (In previous years I had produced 2 sets a year, at most) and doubled the revenue for each set of messages – a little less when you factor in the small bookkeeping discount.

    HELLOOOOOoooo!! I could do THAT again! Couldn't you?

    Why Did This Work?

    There are a lot of things going on in this communication and in my crafting my offer.

    By my saying I was “Sorry I hadn’t been in touch,” it took away any feelings of guilt she may have had about not contacting me. It shifted all the responsibility for any lack of communication away from her, so she didn’t have to avoid my emails, or other forms of contact.

    It opened the door so we could solve the problems we had. She needed new messages. I wanted her back as a regular customer and at a price I was happy with.

    There are other things going on here as well, like creating a sense of urgency through my limited schedule. I also positioned myself with my offer – my price being a key component of that positioning (remember – I doubled it.)

    And I offered the concept of “Money at a discount” through the bookkeeping allowance. Most importantly, I developed an opportunity to conduct more business on a more regular basis, by developing a schedule for the messages.

    What are some ways you've restarted working with a client? Please share any interesting ideas you may have. If you found this post helpful, please share it with a friend or colleague.

    If You Liked This Strategy...

    If you liked this strategy, then I have a couple of great resources for you.

    Subscribe to the Voice Over Marketing Podcast. It's a show I host where I interview people both in and outside the Voice Over Profession about marketing strategies and more.

    Click Here Now to Listen! It's Free!

    If you're someone who wants more, is serious, is curious, creative and understands that if you want different results, then you need to DO something different. If you're someone willing to invest in your business, knowing that investments are made to grow and get a return on that investment then maybe this next opportunity is for you.

    Frankly, some have abandoned it because it was too much for them. They weren't committed to growing their business.

    If you're committed to doing something different to achieve new things, then maybe this is for you.

    Imagine a group of people working together to brainstorm and create other powerful ideas to promote and grow your Voice Over Business.

    This is what the Voice Over Marketing Mastermind Group is all about.

    If your goal is to raise your rates and stop competing with thousands of other Voice Talent for a handful of jobs, take a moment to watch the short informational video and learn how you can get an application to join one of the most powerful business building tools that very few people ever take advantage of... a Mastermind Group.

    Click Here Now to learn more.

    Thanks!


    Do You Feel Guilty When You Rest?

    Feb/11/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    In this post I discuss the importance of working hard and also the importance of rest after working hard.

    We had a classic Nor' Easter here in New England last weekend. We had about 30 inches of snow dumped on us in just about 36 hours.

    Ann and I lost power for about 18+ hours. The day after the storm we spent about 4 hours shoveling. Then it got darker and the wind picked up, so we decided to head inside. We still didn't have heat or electricity. The house was about 48 degrees inside. Kinda cold.

    I crawled into bed. Thankfully the electricity kicked on later that evening.

    {Bear with me, this all has a point}

    The next day we went back out and finished the job. It was beautiful outside. Sunny, clear skies. We spent another 4 hours shoveling and clearing paths. The picture above is the front of my house looking up the sidewalk after we finished clearing the snow.

    I was spent. I took a nice hot shower and then rested the remainder of the day.

    I exercise on a regular basis, so I like physical activity and I must admit, part of me enjoyed the shoveling because it is such great exercise. I felt good, almost "clean" from the inside out as I was moving.

    When all was said and done, Ann and I had completed more than 8 hours of fairly heavy lifting and moving. Even though I exercise, I'm not used to that kind of work for that long a period of time. I have to say I am thrilled that I am not in any physical discomfort. No aches or pains. No stiff back.

    But, I am tired. I didn't realize how tired I am until I climbed the stairs up to my studio at the station and then later, up to the administrative offices to collect my scripts and production orders for the day.

    I have a good deal of writing that needs to be done {this blog post included}, my book, some newsletters, some administrative tasks and a handful of freelance projects that are due later this week. I have plenty of projects that could keep me going from now until 11 PM tonight and I'd still have more to do.

    I'm gave myself permission to get out of here as soon as I can so I can go home and rest some more.

    I have learned that pushing through being tired is NOT going to result in a premium performance. Anything less than that is not good for my clients and ultimately my business. Fortunately, I can do that today. I don't have anything that is due tomorrow. If I did, I would have to work to honor those commitments.

    The point of all this is that sometimes we work hard and we don't realize how tired we are. It doesn't take 8 hours of heavy lifting and fighting to stay warm to tire us out. Just the day to day can have a cumulative effect over time.

    Sometimes it's good to stop and do a self-check and ask how you're feeling physically. Are you tired? Are you eating well? If you're not firing on all cylinders ask yourself if you can give yourself a break.

    Half a day?

    You might feel guilty about your "To-Do" List. I know I personally have to fight this. But then you have to ask yourself: "How effective am I going to be right now or would I accomplish these tasks more efficiently and with higher quality if I am rested"?

    I would argue, you'd probably be better off resting for a bit and coming back at it later.

    What do you think? Do you have to force yourself to rest? What steps do you take to recharge your batteries and do you feel guilty when you do?

    Is Your Language Turning Off Your Ideal Clients?

    Feb/05/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    In this post I briefly discuss how words and language in your marketing can attract or repel people to/from your offer.

    There's an advertiser on the radio promoting the benefits body sculpting (liposuction). The ad does a good job hitting a number of benefits and addresses some concerns/objections people may have. It's a pretty good ad.

    Benefits:

    • Feel better in your clothes
    • Reshape your body and life
    • Feel Sexier and have more fun
    • Look great going to parties

    Addressing Concerns:

    • Pricing Concerns - Payment plans
    • Back home in a few hours - Time concerns
    • Convenience - locations
    • Expertise - Who does the procedures and how many

    While all of these points work to attract and repel clients, it's this last bullet of "addressing Expertise" that in my opinion, stands out in attracting a certain type of client and repelling others.

    To establish credibility and expertise the announcer states their "plastic surgeons have performed over 20,000 procedures."

    Some will react: "Wow! That's a lot of procedures. They must know what they're doing."

    Others will react: "Wow! That's a lot of procedures. It sounds like they're running a factory."

    This "Expertise Factor" ties directly into how much the cost is of concern to the potential client. Why?

    Those who are more likely to react negatively to the high number of procedures, probably prefer more exclusivity to the products and services they purchase and are willing to pay for it.

    This is neither good nor bad, just reality. The language will impress some and turn off others. It all comes down the the potential client's frame of reference and their experiences that determine their reaction to it.

    The point is, the language in your marketing will influence WHO responds to your offers. Make sure the language you're using in your marketing material is attracting the type of clients you want.

    Is there an ad or commercial that really speaks to you? Is there an ad that totally turns your stomach? I'd love to see your comments.

    Please feel free to share this post with a friend or colleague. Also, please subscribe to the blog so you get updates right away. You can do that in the upper right corner and enter your name and email. Your email is safe with me. I never share it with anyone.

    Thanks!

    How To Boost Your STAR Power

    Feb/04/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    In this post I discuss how using the power of celebrity can boost your own credibility and positioning in your business. 

    Who's that handsome devil? No, I'm not talking about Stephen Tyler of Aerosmith and American Idol fame!

    The guy on the left with the New England Patriots hat?

    If you guessed "Yours Truly" you're correct.

    Yes, we get some pretty cool folks coming into the station.

    One of the things I try to purposely do when I meet or work with someone famous is get a picture with them. Why? Well, people just have this natural reaction of "Oh, cool! You got to meet so and so? What were they like?"

    And somehow the celebrity of that person is transferred to you. Call it a nice version of "Guilt by Association."

    Mom and Dad had a saying "You're known by the company you keep." Other versions of this are "Birds of a feather flock together."

    I recently had the opportunity to meet Adam West of the TV Series Bat Man and who now voices the Adam West character on Family Guy.

    Even cooler...? I got my picture taken with Mr. West standing next to the original TV Bat Mobile!

    This Bat Mobile was recently auctioned for $4.62 million and set the world record for the highest price ever fetched for a TV/Movie car. This now makes the CAR famous, so I guess you'd call my picture with Adam and the car a 2-fer.

    Post a comment below and ask me to send you a copy of the picture if you'd like to see it.

    The concept of association is fascinating, really. Here's an example. When the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup a few years ago, the Stanley Cup trophy was brought here to CBS Boston since we have a sister station that carries the Bruins games.

    People had the opportunity to have their picture taken standing next to "The Cup." The line was huge. I was intrigued. Here people are lining up to have their picture taken next to a trophy that they had absolutely no part in winning. I'm sure most hadn't even been to a game that season. But there they were.

    The same thing happens when the World Series trophy makes an appearance. People have their picture taken with it. Why?

    Association. Getting close to something "Bigger" and unusual. A neat experience.

    When you can harness your association with others and position yourself among those with influence and celebrity you can boost your own credibility and standing. Make efforts to do that and boost your Star Power.

    Someone who does this exceedingly well is Marc Graue. He regularly posts pictures of himself with celebrities who come to his recording studio. It's entertaining and it inspires comments and interaction with him. It's smart.

    Celebrities don't have to be movie or TV stars. They can be a well known authority within a specific business, or topic. As long as they are recognized within your area of interest, having pictures and association with them can be incredibly beneficial.

    Do you have pictures with "Celebrities"? What's your "brush with fame?" I'd love to hear your comments.

    John

    What's The Worst Number In Your Business?

    Feb/01/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    One of my marketing mentors, Dan S. Kennedy says “The worst number in any business is One.” What does he mean by that? Well...

    • one major customer/client,
    •  one source or vendor for a product or service,
    • one piece of vital equipment, etc.
    If something happens to "It," you’re left scrambling for a solution or replacement.

    I learned this lesson myself. My AudioMERCIAL™ product. We replicate the program on CD with artwork, a nifty case, MP3 files, the works.

    I have a CD duplication company in the U.S. that is terrific.

    The problem came when my clients in Canada needed to get them shipped from the U.S. into Canada and deal with Customs Charges, etc. The shipping costs shot up. Unforeseen problem. That happens.

    So, I’m left scrambling to find a CD duplication company in Canada—which was a surprisingly difficult thing to do, by the way.

    It took a bit of figuring it out dues to currency exchange rates, different tax laws, etc., but we got it solved.

    Take a look around you and your business. What do you only have “One” of? It’d be smart to work on finding and putting together a back up plan for the time when (not if) you’ll need it.

    I'd love your feedback and comments. Please feel free to share this post and blog with others!

    More next week. Enjoy your weekend!


    Have You Relaxed Today?

    Jan/30/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    This is something a little different.

    We spend a lot of time taking in information, searching for Voice Over work and running around. Sometimes it's important to stop, rest and catch our breath.

    Take 3 and a half minutes to stop and watch this beautiful video.

    It's particularly impressive when you enlarge it to full screen mode.

    Enjoy.

     

    How To NOT Become a Crackhead

    Jan/28/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    Who You Hang Around With Matters

    In this blog post I discuss the importance of "Association" and how who you spend time with affects how you achieve your goals.

    I was going to write a piece on this topic sometime soon, however a conversation I had in the hallway at the station this afternoon clinched it for me.

    Three colleagues of mine have quit smoking recently and have been smoke free between 4 weeks to 2 months! Good for them! One of them said she was glad the others have quit the same time she did because there was less temptation to light one up.

    They used to smoke together. Now they're quitting together.

    I heard marketing expert Frank Kern speak a couple of years ago and he talked about the importance of hanging out with the right people to help you achieve your goals. His example?

    "If you hang out with a bunch of crackheads long enough, eventually you're going to say 'Hey, let me try some of that stuff.' and BAM you're a crackhead."

    When I was starting my career in radio I was working full time as a lobbyist for the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® and was spending my nights and weekends working at the radio station. I had friends calling me to go out for a beer with them. They were telling me to "Hang it up" and come out and have some fun.

    I wanted to be in radio and voice overs, so I hung around radio stations and VO people.

    Studies show that your income is the average of the 10 people you spend the most time with.

    We're social creatures so we tend to morph to the groups we spend the most time with. If you want to run a marathon, then it's probably not a wise idea to spend a lot of time with people who spend their free time online in the basement playing video games 'til all hours of the morning while snacking on junk food.

    If you want to quit smoking, it's probably best to spend less time with those around you who still smoke.

    If you want to start making more money, then it's probably a good idea to start spending more time around folks who make more than you do.

    This can be tough to do, particularly when close friends and family members start seeing you make changes. React they will. Some positively and some negatively.

    That's why it's important to involve yourself with groups of people and organizations that will support your efforts. Mastermind Groups and Associations can be wonderful opportunities where people of similar interests and goals can support one another. Finding the right one to associate with is worth your time.

    Have you encountered resistance from friends and family when you've tried to make changes? What types of support mechanisms and associations do you belong to in order to help you reach your goals?

    I'd love your feedback and comments. Please feel free to share this with a friend or colleague.

    John

    I Am Humbled - Someone Turned the Tables Me

    Jan/24/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    Last week I began a new journey into the world of Podcasting. I've produced many podcasting elements for many shows.

    Greg Elwell from www.B2BInbound.com contacted me to see about me producing some show elements for him.

    Long story short, Greg wound up interviewing me and he did a masterful job. (Someone turned the tables on me and it was FUN!)

    Greg's podcast is relatively new, but the content is great and I have subscribed to it. You can listen to Greg's program with my interview by clicking here. He's got some great additional content on the site as well.

    You can find Greg's Podcast on i-Tunes by clicking here for the "Expert Interviews Podcast"

    After hearing the work of my clients I have decided to start my own Podcast. This speaks to a lesson I must constantly re-learn for myself; we learn a lot about how to improve or do different things in our business by looking at other types of businesses.

    Look for the first episode of my Podcast in early February.

    Many thanks to my many clients for opening my eyes to something new and exciting and a special thank you to Greg Elwell!

    John

    Are Your Low Voice Over Rates Your Own Fault?

    Jan/23/2013 | Posted by John Melley

    This post may ruffle a few feathers, but let me start it off by asking a question.

    How many of us hesitate, or feel a slight lump in our throats when responding to the question: "So what are your rates"?

    C'mon... we've all felt it at one time or another.

    If you're a member of AFTRA like I am, rates are set for certain productions and you just say those are the contracted rates when people question you. (By the way those rates are minimums. You can ask for more.)

    If you're not in AFTRA you don't have that "crutch" and then there are freelance projects that fall outside collective bargaining and there are projects like script writing, production/editing and consulting that aren't even part of an agreement. So you're on your own.

    Like I said, we've all felt that hesitation about rates at one time or another, but WHY?

    Why do we feel at all self conscious about stating what we want to make in exchange for providing our gifts and talents that will help a client grow their business, sell a product or bring their project to life?

    I believe you shouldn't feel that way as long as you know you are providing your best service and performance to your client and you live up to your agreements.

    I think a lot of the hesitation comes from our background, our personal experiences with money, family, friends and societal/cultural attitudes and conceptions about money.

    Let me share a story I heard from Rabbi Daniel Lapin last spring at a conference. He was discussing societal attitudes about money and how the use of language can subtly influence us. Here was an example:

    How many of us have heard someone say they "Want to Give Back"? The concept of giving back is interesting. "Giving Back" implies that you've only been taking and that you're finally getting around to offering something in return.

    Rabbi Lapin asked us to hold up a $ Dollar bill and then asked us if we mugged somebody in order to get it. Granted, it was a bit of an exaggeration, but he made a good point.

    We provide a service that someone has agreed to pay us for. There has been a fair exchange, and if you treat your clients right you'll leave them feeling they got more than their money's worth.

    Please understand I'm not saying anything against donating and supporting organizations and causes that are important to you. That is a GOOD thing to do because it is something we CHOOSE to do with our money.

    What I'm trying to point out is the language we use matters. "Donating" and "Giving Back" may be the same side of the coin for some people, but I think there is a difference for the reasons I mentioned above.

    Pop Culture and news also have an impact. Business in general has been portrayed very negatively in the media over the last few years and our political leaders on BOTH sides have seized upon it for their own uses. Yes, there have been some scumbags taking advantage of people, and we ought to lock 'em up and throw away the key.

    But we all know most of us aren't "too big to fail." We want to put food on the table, pay the bills, take care of the kids, save for the future and yes, we have dreams of things we'd like to do, places we'd like to go, things we'd like to have. There's NOTHING wrong with that!

    But it all has an impact. It provides the backdrop for comments you hear from family and friends "Oh, well he/she owns their own business, they must be rich." Questions like "How much did that cost you"? "You charged HOW MUCH for WHAT"?

    We're on this Earth for a short time to LIVE! Money is simply a tool for us to do that. We all want to be rich. Want proof? People spend $ millions everyday on lottery tickets hoping to become rich.

    We  are working in a field that isn't run of the mill. We choose to work in Voice Over following  our dreams. We do it in addition to our other job(s) until we can do it full time. Most people won't do that. I had friends tell me to "Hang it up and come have a beer." I'm glad I have the career I have now instead of those beers I could have had then.

    Be vigilant about the thoughts, comments and perceptions the people around you have about money and how they might impact your mindset in building your business. Go for it.

    Do you have examples of people making comments about your rates? Do you hesitate when quoting an amount for a project? I'd love to hear your comments and feedback. Please share this post with a friend.

    John