Advice is worth what you pay for it: Quora

I got all on my high horse on Quora. My answer is below, but there’s a ton of interesting conversation going on in the Quora thread in general from very cool folks like Gina Bianchini, Rachel Sklar, and others.

What advice would seasoned women in tech give to younger girls deciding to make a tech career for themselves?

Don’t get sucked into the notion that you’ve got to be a bitch to be successful. The more you can do to dispel the notion that we’re all out to get each other, the better off we all are.

Do good work, and stand behind it. Remember that it’s work. Not playtime. Or you wouldn’t be getting paid.

Take criticism with your head up, and take responsibility for what you know you should do.

Don’t accept a single professional moment that compromises you, your integrity, or your safety.

Family first. This goes for your colleagues, clients, and customers, too. (Be kind, rewind, etc.)

Read everything you can get your hands on, especially things that you disagree with, and figure out what you truly think about the world. Always be learning.

Talk to other women. You may find out more by listening to them.

Be true to yourself. Write it down if you’re not sure who that is today.

Volunteer. Nothing for shaking you out of a navel-gazing slump like doing something for someone else out of the goodness of your own heart.

Advice is worth what you pay for it.

Product development: when a little says a lot

I worked for TypePad as a community manager for years, so admittedly, I’m a bit of a feature geek just from knowing the platform inside out.  It’s difficult it is to make a user-facing feature happen, especially one that doesn’t seem to be a big deal compared to heavy-lifting-type requirements. Maybe something that everyone else sees as a “little fix” gets pushed aside for a while. As amazing as I’m sure the Google reCaptcha feature is for sharing posts/fighting spam, I’m actually most delighted to see a different feature poke its head up.

A product announcement, with a clearly-written call-to-action message, that links customers straight to the details of the feature on a blog post on Everything TypePad.

Compose New Post - Ginevra Kirkland | TypePad

Probably five people will know why this is awesome, and I love y’all so much. (Nyan!)

Continue reading

Newsletters: a quick how-to

The first in a series of posts on how to make your startup marketing more awesome.

Screen Shot 2012-06-20 at 1.46.19 PMI probably get more marketing emails than anyone, for two reasons: I like love mail, and I want to see how other marketing pros make either great strides, or how to avoid their mistakes. 

I've spent a lot of time using newsletter services, both to build out regular customer communications, and to get feedback at the early stages of a marketing campaign. Here's a few tricks I've learned along the way.

 

Yo, dawg. I got you some pro tips!

Sell? Sell. Your company exists because you want people to pay for something. If you're not a revenue-based business, you're selling an idea that people want to use your product and VC's/advertisers will pay for things like "the light bill" and "all those free Diet Cokes we drink". Get real about this.

Social: a kabillion "likes" doesn't mean doodly squat to your bottom line if you're not using social to drive sales. More on this in another post, but for newsletters, add a link for people to get friendly with you, and especially to forward to a friend. Email is social, y'all.

Subject lines: people tend to open emails with subject lines of three words or less. Make them count. Try to think about what you're asking that customer to do, and what you want the end result to be. 

Keep it short. Too much text on the page confuses the eye, especially when there's graphics involved.

Speaking of graphics, your customers are able to see what they are. Zappos does a great job at this, selling a few items a week that people can click through to on a landing page geared to their past purchases. 

Subscribe & unsubscribe: these basic functions should be as easy as possible for your customers. Countless headaches can come from a customer who can't figure out how to sign up through your site, and ill will can quickly add up if they're forced to jump through hoops to explain why they're leaving your site.

Test, test, test. Send yourself the email first. Click around! Are your customers opening emails more frequently on certain days, or at certain times of day? I've gotten tons of email communications from West Coast companies that arrive after 4 on a Friday in my time zone. Sorry, pals, I'm going to delete those without a second thought. 

Mobile: do you know how many of your customers are reading their emails on their mobile devices? Find out. Adjust accordingly, and test – what looks amazing on a designer's monitor may look like a hot mess on a phone. Do more of your customers use PC's and Blackberries when your office is all-Apple, all the time? Get an emulator, or better yet, keep those most commonly-usde devices handy in your office for real-world QA.

Screen Shot 2012-06-20 at 1.43.57 PMDoes your message match up? If your marketing team is an actual team, then you'd better be sure someone who controls the overall corporate messaging either takes a look over the newsletter, or you're so versed in your company's lingo that you don't make a blunder. Anthropologie is great at selling this experience of some otherworldy life where everyone flits around in a perfect dress.

Updated to add: don't use all caps in your email titles! Anthro did this today, and I almost fell off my chair. Do we really have to go over this again? 

 

Comments are open on this post if you've got other ideas, comments, questions, or you just want to tell me I'm full of shit.