Welcome To Relax Consulting's Blog

Transparent thoughts and ideas from Administrative Consultant (aka: Virtual Assistant, Crystal Casavant of Relax Consulting.

Relax Consulting - Let Us Help, So YOU Can RELAX!

Phone: 920.645.7529

Email: Crystal@RelaxConsulting.com

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Your Business Funnel

Whether you design, monitor, and maintain your marketing, website and social media yourself or someone does it for you, it's important to monitor how the process is working for you and your business. You likely had a goal in mind when you set up the process (ie: We want x number of subscribers by this date, we want to increase client satisfaction by x% by this date, or we want to increase referrals by x% or x#, etc...). When you set that goal, you should have had known how you were going to measure the results. Social media is just like any other sustainable project. Yes, there will be changes along the way, but knowing where your going and how you're going to get there is the key to a truly successful program.

We encourage our clients to think about social media as a funnel. Your Twitter account should not be at the base of the funnel, your Twitter account should give customers/clients and potential customers/clients a preview of your offerings and should drive them somewhere else. Only you can determine where that somewhere else is, but below is an example to give you an idea of a social media funnel.

What this funnel shows if the various ways that a particular company drives interest in their company. Their YouTube videos contain information or links to their company website, their Twitter posts may link to an article, but ultimately they are driving potential customers/clients to their company website. Just driving someone to your Twitter account isn't going to give them enough information about your business to keep their interest. Make sure that posts are keeping this in mind. It's okay to encourage 1,000 facebook "likes", but once they are 'liking' you, it's important to provide them with value added information that takes them the step further to your website. I can "like" Menards, but if I never step foot in the store, I'm not a customer and therefore not creating revenue.

You or someone in your organization (or contracted by the organization) needs to track the traffic at the base of the funnel. It's not important how many Twitter followers you have, or how many Facebook "likers", it's important how many people are checking out what it is you want to check out. In the example above, they are driving people to their company website. So, using the analytics behind the scenes on their website gives the company a good idea of what referral source is giving them the biggest 'bang' for their buck (see below)

Referrer Types Visits Percentage
Direct Traffic 337 56.90%
Social Network 128 21.60%
External URL 67 11.30%
Search Engine 58 9.80%
News Message 2 0.30%

Then they can dig one step further and analyze which types of social media are working hardest for them.

Social Network Visits Percentage
Facebook 115 90%
Linkedin 10 8%
Twitter 3 2%

In this particular example, the focus should not be on Tweeting, it should be on improving the number of people they are reaching on Facebook. They may not want to discount Twitter completely, but may want to analyze what they are Tweeting, are they using hashtags? is their information interesting? They should ask others for advice, see what's trending, etc... and make their decision from there.

It's never a good idea in marketing to continue blindly - make sure you have a schedule to analyze what is and isn't working and ask for fresh and edgy ideas to stay ahead of the competition. Things move fast in this technological world and being prepared is important, but being creative and opportunistic is even more important!

If you have any questions or aren't sure about any of the information contained in this post, let us know and we would be glad to clarify.

Relax Consulting - where we do the work so you can RELAX!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Grab a Spoon - Stir That Pot!

Crystal here, with some thoughts that have been on my mind. I am the type of person who asks questions about everything. Yup...it was annoying in first grade and it's still really annoying...BUT...if knowledge is power and you gain knowledge by asking questions then she who asks the most questions wins, right? Not that life is a game of winning or losing or a game at all, it just reminds me of that saying "he who dies with the most toys wins" which also holds no water, so just something funny. OK - now for the point.

I worked for a decade in an environment where one of our rules to live by included the phrase "don't stir the pot" and I understood what was meant by the saying so I never questioned it. In context, it simply meant that you shouldn't gossip about something, just get back to work. That's a great philosophy, but last week or so I started thinking about the saying itself in the literal sense. Can't believe it took me this long, but I guess I was too busy to question it...anyway, now I ask: What happens if you don't stir a pot?

*the food burns
*your mean sticks and the pot is ruined
*the meal becomes inedible
*your hard work preparing the meal goes down the drain
*the house smells like charred food
*your family never gets to sit down to a hot meal

So...grab a spoon and stir that pot. The difference between stirring the pot and gossiping needs to be clearly defined though. Make sure you're talking to the RIGHT people, about the RIGHT things, for the RIGHT reasons and providing solutions. Otherwise, you still end up with stinky air, a ruined pot, and you never get to enjoy the delicious meal.

Pretty random thoughts and hope this wasn't too hard to follow - just felt I had to share.

I'm off to go grab a spoon and stir the pot (of spaghetti that is - at least at our house tonight)!


Do you have other sayings that are just plain funny or you wonder where they came from or what they mean? Post them here, it would be great to discuss them!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Grant Writing Presentation

I am putting together a grant writing presentation - if you would be interested in looking it over, please inbox me: Crystal@RelaxConsulting.com

I need someone to proof it and let me know if it's helpful...and you'll get some FREE tools to help you and your organization.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Crystal's Literary Diet

Crystal is often asked what she is reading (probably because she asks others the same question). She wanted to share some literary suggestions with the Relax Consulting blog followers and as you can see below, Crystal feels strongly that a literary diet should include some meat and potatoes/educational reading, some dessert/a fun read or a romance novel, and some snacks/periodicals to even things out. Some of the books below are being read for the first time and some for the tenth time. If you have any feedback on any of them, please leave a comment below to help other reader in their choosing of a literary diet.

What's on your literary diet menu for the next few weeks?

Bossy Pants by Tina Fey is a fun read with a little bit of business and a lot of laughter. (find Crystal's full review of this one on Ezine: http://ezinearticles.com/?This-Boss-Loves-BossyPants!&id=6921339)

Waiting for Your Cat to Bark by Brian and Jeff Eisenberg is definitely a business and marketing book, a good value with lots of insight

Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss is the kind of book that can change your life - stop putting off until tomorrow what you could be enjoying today. A complete review of this one should be up on Ezine in a few days, subscribe to Crystal's ezine feed to read it first: http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Crystal_J_Casavant)

The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball is a fun read - not part of Crystal's business book diet, but more like the banana cream pie after the meal. A great book to grab when relaxing with a cup of coffee.

Customer Satisfaction is Worthless by Jeffrey H. Gitomer is a fabulous read for customers and customer service providers alike. Who wants to be satisfied when you can instead have your expectations exceeded?

Success Magazine - where you can learn, laugh, and find valuable business tools. As part of the literary diet, this is the mid-afternoon snack of carrots and celery needed to get you through the day.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What People Are Reading - Written By Crystal Casavant

What People Are Reading (this week)
I love the creative part of my job, but I have to be mindful that I’m meeting the needs and exceeding the expectations of my customers, potential customers, and supporters. So, I must pay attention to what is driving traffic to my website, what times I post, etc…and I’m always a little surprised at what people are reading. Each of my blogs has a statistics page to show the most heavily viewed or trafficked posts (as does Ezine). Below you’ll find a top ten list for popular posts. This may be helpful if you’ve read something and liked it, and you want to read more but don’t have time to read everything. So here goes (starting with the most popular - and YES, each title is a hyperlink to the post/article so you can easily read it if you have not done so already):

Monday, May 14, 2012

What is Relax Consulting?

What is Relax Consulting?
I get asked this question a lot, and when I try to answer using a title or reference to another business, I feel like I'm trying to stick a square peg in a round hole. Administrative Consulting or Virtual Assisting is 'sort of' what I do...but more of some and less of other things that those type of companies provide. What Relax Consulting is, is an extension of me. We do the things that I'm good at and the things I enjoy - and we do them for the people I enjoy spending my time with. 

I am reading a book by Tim Ferriss called the Four Hour Work Week where he talks about controlling the W's in your life, which lets you control, WHAT you do, WHEN you do it, WHERE you do it, and with WHOM. And that's exactly what Relax Consulting is. I help companies and individuals with marketing, writing, team building, presentation creation/polishing, etc...and it do it on my terms to fit into my family schedule, I do it from my home (or remotely - gotta love technology - ie: from the beach), and I get to choose my clients which means I have the ability to work with only those people I want to work with.

So, to answer the initial question of what Relax Consulting is, it's a chance for someone who is frustrated by their limitations, to sit down and talk to someone who has insightful ideas, positive energy, and a passion for life. We can talk about plans, goals, and ideas, and see if we can help one another. This may mean I help you design a website and teach someone at your office how to maintain it and link together your social media, or it may mean you call me once in a while to write a blog or proof read a presentation. 

In the end - Relax Consulting is about building relationships, building up one another, and going back to the basics of life where one hand washes the other and ideas can be shared and created openly and honestly among people that respect one another.

That's the scoop - and as I learn more things, or hire additional teammates, Relax Consulting will become bigger, better, and we will expand into different business spaces. It's all about embracing diversity and individuality as well as driving change!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Simplifying Social Medial for Your Successful Business

Well - the presentation has been used, tested, reviewed, and now I'd like to tell you it's perfect...but let's go with 'polished' instead. If you know of someone who would benefit from this particular presentation, direct them to the Relax Consulting website and I can present to them individually, as a group, or to a larger audience. Or, if you'd like a self directed study, I would be happy to email you a copy of the powerpoint presentation that you can use on your own. FREE OF CHARGE, of course - because providing value to others comes with it's own priceless reward for me too!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Control Your W's - Thank You Tim Ferriss

I was recently told "this book changed my life, you should read it". There were a few bumps in the road (the book is so popular it's hard to find and I really wanted a hard copy) but I finally acquired my own copy of Tim Ferriss' book: The Four Hour Work Week. I can see how this book has the ability to change lives. Listen to this...and then go hunt down your own copy, you won't be disappointed!

Money is multiplied in the practical value depending on the number of W's you control in your life: what you do, when you do it, where you do it, and with whom you do it. (Tim calls this the 'freedom multiplier')

Go seize the day! http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/

Thursday, May 10, 2012

REALLY Relaxing

Today, the Relax Consulting office closed a smidge early. We did this so I could relax - no pun intended. I've been experiencing some neck strain, and earlier in the week I had such a headache that I swore the entire county was spinning (brought me immediately back to the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade and a bad experience of nachos coupled with the tilt o whirl at the county fair...it was ugly).

I visited a friend, Leah Strutz, from Take Time Therapeutic Massage (http://www.amtamembers.com/leahstrutz) and had the most relaxing and enjoyable hour. Leah is a true professional and I very much appreciate the time she spent with me today. Now I'm just trying to figure out how I can justify and hour long massage every week...hmmmm.....

Relax Consulting can help business owners find time to relax and Leah can help Relax Consulting find time to Relax - sounds like a great partnership in the making! Call Leah today and schedule some time for yourself: 920-901-3573 or complete the form on her website: http://www.amtamembers.com/leahstrutz/contact-me


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Opportunities Brought To YOU By The EDC

The Economic Development Corporation of Manitowoc County (EDC) http://www.edcmc.org/index.html brings great opportunities to business owners and I want to share two specific opportunities with you tonight:

Help sow the seeds today for a brighter future tomorrow - be a founding supporter of the agricultural education center located on the Lakeshore: Learn more by clicking here http://www.edcmc.org/Announcements/agriculture%20flyer-revised.pdf

Build your Brand - Agriculture Product Marketing Seminar: http://www.edcmc.org/Events/Branding%20Poster.pdf

The EDC has been priceless to Relax Consulting as we start on our new ventures - find out how you can get involved and give back, or learn more about how the EDC can help you and your business to get ahead!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Happy Clients Wanted - Money Back Guarantee


Of course, the initial consultation is free - then...after your first four hours, you'll be asked to complete a survey. Client satisfaction is worthless at Relax Consulting. We don't want satisfied clients - we want HAPPY CLIENTS. If you aren't 100% happy, we aren't either. We will make it right, or hand you a refund for the full amount you spent. No questions asked.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Two New Business Articles - Published Today

Don't Just Embrace Change - Drive it: http://ezinearticles.com/?Dont-Just-Embrace-Change,-Drive-It&id=7034182

Say YES to Yourself - and Start Today: http://ezinearticles.com/?Say-YES-to-Yourself-and-Start-Today!&id=7034224

If you're looking for someone to write or blog for your business - check out Relax Consulting and see if Crystal's 'style' matches what you're looking for. The consultation is FREE!!! http://www.relaxconsulting.com/

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Your Business - Your Baby

Don't Trust Your Business to Just Anyone!

Your business is your baby - admit it...both cause you sleepless nights and you worry about the future of your child like you worry about the future of your business. This is how seriously we take our pledge to our clients: See what Crystal has to say below:

One of the first Relax Consulting clients was Crystal's own ex-husband. Yes...ex-husband...he had enough faith in her to cut her a check. Say what you want about trust and integrity - this alone speaks for itself. You won't be disappointed if you partner with someone who truly cares about your business.

Here's what the business experts have to say about that:

From Women in Business: "Communicate Effectively"

From Working Wisdom:  "Effective conflict resolution"

Relax Consulting may not be right for you and your business - but the consultation is free and full of value - partnering with someone you can call a trusted friend and partner is vitally important to your success and your ability to Relax, knowing that some of your once daunting tasks are being taken care of professionally by someone who cares.

As I finished this blog...I received the following email to attest to some of our claims:

Friday, May 4, 2012

Administrative Consultants - Finding New Clients

This blog is a business tool, but should also be a resource for other Administrative Consultants. I have been blessed and accepted with open arms into the world of administrative consulting and I am proud to be listed in the directory of Administrative Consultants  which is helping me to build my business. I also have more good news I want to share with you!

Danielle Keister is the founder of the Administrative Consultant Association and is an Administrative Consulting Expert and she has developed a great resource for administrative consultants looking for new clients - download your FREE copy now: http://www.administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/howtogetclients Danielle also offers insight, tools, blogs, advice, and forms on her website. Whether you are a business owner looking to partner with or learn more about an Administrative Consultant, or you are a motivated individual thinking about starting his/her own Administrative Consulting business, you'll find something of value from the Administrative Consultants Association.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

From the Archives - Motivation for Lemony Days!


I talk about defining one's own success. Let's start there. What do you consider success? This is a personal question and no one can answer it for you. Is it having enough money to take a family vacation, pay off the mortgage, buy a home, purchase an SUV, pay for a wedding, retire in Hawaii, children who graduate from high school, a happy spouse after 30 years of marriage, a certain position in a company, the ability to give back to the community, a museum named in your honor, a particular income threshold?
If you don't know, you'll need to start there. It's like goal setting on a grand scale. Where do you want to be in ten years? What is going to be your legacy? Do you define success by a feeling, a mark on the map, the size of your bank account? This is for you to decide.
Once you have defined success for yourself, I highly recommend making something visual for yourself. At our house, we call it a goal board (and we sort of use Pinterest for some of it). If you define success as having a happy family and being able to take them to Disney, your goal board may have a picture of your family in the center and the outside ring will be a picture of the plane you'll be taking to your destination, a picture of the Disney Princesses, etc...and if part of your definition of success includes some artwork for your home, and a larger home - the board will also show a photo of your dream home, a picture by your favorite artist, and maybe the crystal vase you've been longing for or a picture of the hot tub you'll have in the backyard some day.
Goal boards serve several purposes. They serve to give your dreams depth and bring them closer to reality. They give you something to talk about with others who may see them. They serve as motivation on those lemony days when you feel that your dreams are out of sight. If that dream is in front of you daily or at a minimum - weekly, you're less likely to spend your money on things that deter you from that goal. For example, if my definition of success includes growing my company and I have a picture of a large office with lovely wooden desks and happy smiling employees on my goal board, I'm less likely to spend that $4.76 on a white chocolate mocha at Starbucks on my way to the meeting. On the other hand, if my goals seem so far away and I can't envision them, I am going to seek immediate gratification more often and squander my $4.76 because it tastes yummy for a moment. It's really about seeing the big picture - seeing what you want so vividly that you can hear it, taste it, smell it, feel it, and nothing is going to de-rail you. It's about passion and longing and making it happen - because YOU are worth it!
Keep turning those lemons into lemonade - YOU deserve the sweet refreshing beverage!
Crystal J. Casavant
Two Rivers, WI
Relax Consulting - where your success determines our success!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6940821

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Avoiding an Information Silo

Seeing that I'll be marrying a farmer in 100 days (not that I'm counting), I do know what a silo is. I also know that silos aren't replaced on most farms because it is cheaper to use a bag to store feed because there is no maintenance or upkeep on the machinery or the silo itself. I recently heard the term 'information silo' in the business world and I was intrigued. With my limited knowledge of farming, I could not imagine what the term was doing being used in the business world. For those of you who don't know, here's what I found for an explanation (compliments of Wikipedia):

An information silo is a management system that does not operate back and forth with other management systems within the organization. One manager has trouble exchanging information with other managers and this prevents information and ideas from being shared back and forth to help the organization communicate effectively. The managers are often thought of as gate keepers because of their 'information silo', 'silo thinking', silo vision' and/or 'silo mentality'. Their thinking is vertical (like a silo) while the others within the organization are horizontal which causes the frustration, security lapses, privacy breaches, and frustrated customers.

So...now that we know what an information silo is, how can we avoid it? That's easy, right? Have the right people on the team! If only it were that easy. We sometimes end up with people on the team who we think are the right people, or we inherit a team that we didn't necessarily choose and we have to work with what we were given. Don't give up. Open and honest communication is the key. If it seems like there is a problem between managers or team leaders, do not assume that it will work itself out. Meet with those involved and engage them in team building exercises, ask for feedback and input, and help them to see one another's points of view. You may have individuals who think differently and though they may never see eye to eye, they must see the importance of communication for the good of the organization.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Learning Culture

Kevin Eikenberry and Mitchell Levy are writing a book called: "Successful Corporate Learning" - Creating a Learning Culture with 140 specific ideas for building continual learning into organization life and they are looking for input. The book will be about creating successful learning culturesl it will be comprised of twitter-length quotes and published in the THINKaha book series. To find out more, or to contribute yourself, click on the link below.

My thoughts on the subject are below...and of course had to be modified for submission since they are lengthy. But enjoy!!!

·         What does a learning culture look like?
o   A learning culture is a culture that not only embraces change, but drives change. Just like not all employees are drive to be leaders, not all employees will have a thirst for knowledge or a desire to drive change. The designated leaders of the organization must drive change push themselves toward learning and knowledge. The formal and informal leaders of the organization will read, share ideas, and be thinking of solutions instead of noticing problems. In a learning culture, leaders at all levels will be forward thinkers. They are the ones designing the new sprinkler system before the fire starts instead of waiting until the building is ablaze and then looking for the garden hose.
·         Why is a learning culture important?
o   A learning culture has been important since long before our time - “The Only Constant in Life Is Change” was said by Heraclitus of Ephesus, the Greek philosopher (c.535BC – 475 BC). He could not have imagined computers, smart phones, tweets, and some of the technological advances of our day, or maybe he did and that’s what prompted his very insightful thoughts. The fact of the matter is, he was right during his time and he is right today. I’ve often been told that in the business world, you need to embrace change to be successful. I would say that to be mediocre, you need to embrace change. If you want to be truly successful, you need to drive change. You need to be the catalyst of change. In order to be the catalyst of change you need to learn the landscape of your business, your competitors business, and find out what’s hot and what’s not. To stay ahead you have to be constantly changing and learning.
·         How can a learning culture positively impact any organization?
o   Whether an organization is large or small, a learning culture is a necessity. When people learn, they feel good about themselves, their organization, and their industry. People who feel good about what they do, simply do it better. The overall organization will be more positive if people are engaged in learning and moving forward driving change. Without learning and knowledge you have no change and without change your organization will fall behind. Life moves fast, and in the past if you didn’t learn and change you could expect things to stay the same. With the speed of life as we know it in this century, expecting things to stay the same isn’t realistic. Doing things the same way you have always done means falling behind financially and you will neither attract nor retain quality talent for your organization. Hiring, training, and mentoring with a learning culture in mind is a great way (and possibly the only way) to positively impact a growing organization.
·         How can an individual impact a learning culture?
o   And individual can either negatively or positively impact a learning culture. The reach of their impact depends upon the position the individual holds either formally or informally within an organization. For example, if the owner of the organization does not value learning or education and makes this known, it may take several leaders beneath him or her to lead the team in the direction of learning. Conversely, if the owner believes strongly in learning and someone within the organization disagrees, their ability to influence others will be unlikely.
·         Where do you start in building a learning culture?
o   You can start a learning culture at any time within an organization. The key is communication and not timing. Don’t think ‘it’s too late to start, or I’ll start tomorrow’, instead focus on letting others know what you want to start, how you plan to start it, how you plan to sustain it, and emphasize the benefit to the individual and the team. This method will create buy in and a sustainable culture of learning for your organization. For example, at your next team or staff meeting you as the owner/leader of the organization could start with an introduction about how fast paced your industry is and how important it is going to be to stay competitive through learning. Then ask the team for their ideas and suggestions about what is important to them. Together you can develop a training program for existing teammates as well as new hires and then talk about how you will not only sustain the learning culture but also measure the results. Be transparent about your plan and what is driving the change.
·         What actions will lead to a learning culture?
o   Transparency and communication are most important in developing a learning culture. Simply throwing out an idea about tuition reimbursement or a new training/education regimen is not going to get everyone on board with the idea. When you introduce your ideas, you need to be transparent about what is driving the culture change. IE: I want to grow this company by 12% by year ______ and the only way we are going to do that is by staying ahead of competitor XYZ so we need____________...etc…
·         How do you nurture a learning culture?
o   Once you have shared your desires with your team/employees, and you’ve developed a plan for a culture change, you need to nurture those on both ends of the spectrum. You will have those who do not want to change/grow/learn and it is just as important to nurture them as it is to nurture those who are embracing the change, growing, and learning. Let those who are embracing the change know how appreciated and valued they are. Bring them in on more projects, reward them monetarily if possible. For those who are not quite on board yet, talk to them and find out where the resistance is coming from and decide how best to nurture and nudge them in the right direction. Let them know that they too are valued and figure out how they learn best and then develop a program that will best meet their needs to help you achieve your objectives for the organization.
·         How do you sustain a learning culture?
o   To sustain a learning culture long term, it is important to develop a training/learning schedule that meets the needs of your organization. If your trade association or industry does not offer certifications, licenses, etc…you can develop them yourself within the organization. Let the team know what is expected of them, provide them the tools they need to be successful, and reward them for achieving and exceeding your expectations. Make the process as fun as possible. You want to accomplish your goals, and a team that is engaged and happy is more likely to embrace those goals than a team that is going through the motions to collect a paycheck.

May Day or may day?

May Day is sort of a fun play on words - of course, if we are talking about it today, you know that we are discussing the five day festival celebrating flowers and trees. Children are likely at school singing around a maypole, tied with colorful ribbons and streamers. These are all left overs of the old European traditions. May Day also is a term used to indicate an emergency. The saying 'may day' comes from French beginnings meaning 'help me'.

My suggestion for May Day is that we combine the British celebration with the French request for help and use this day as a day for helping and appreciating others. Bake a batch of cookies and bring some to a neighbor, shut in, or patient at a nursing home. Pick up the phone and call someone you have not spoken to in a long time. Treat your children to an hour at the park complete with singing, dancing, and laughter.

Whatever you choose to do today, do it with happiness and appreciation and you may find yourself celebrating may day every day!