Online Systems: Outgoing Messages

You may ask yourself why we separated the incoming messages systems with the outgoing message systems. (Missed the last blog post about systems for dealing with incoming messages? Click here.)

For me, incoming messages are mainly reactive to while outgoing messages are more proactive.

We all have things we need to communicate about and figure out our system for sending these messages into the world.



From You: What Needs To Be Said?

The first kinds of outgoing messages that need to be sent are your outgoing (likely marketing) messages. Now this could be businesswise (sale!) or personalwise (birthday party!).

Answering these three questions quarterly about upcoming communications can frame this process:

  1. What do I need to say?
  2. Who do I need to say it to?
  3. What medium(s) will work best?

Make a list of all the messages you need to communicate over the next three months answering these three questions. 

Examples:

I’m having a Sappy Holidays low key gathering (where we watch ‘Love Actually’ and ‘The Holiday’ with a cookie baking intermission).
I need to invite my local (driving distance) friends.
Facebook event

I have an email list I want people to subscribe to for my business.
I need to tell my customers, friends, and potential customers. Maybe even some colleagues.
I need to remind people with twice a month posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and Instagram. I need to tell people when they come to in-person events. I should probably put it in my email signature. I should publish the email newsletter regularly as part of this. All these things will be scheduled ahead of time.

I know this sounds REALLY STUPID. But it’ll force you to look and think ahead, which is something most of us need to be prompted to do occasionally. I just made this list for Anchorspace messages and realized ‘dog friendly’ and ‘fast WiFi’ are not something we’ve been communicating at all. In other words, this list you make, whether for your business life or personal life or both, may surprise you. Also doing it quarterly will feel less nuts than doing it weekly or monthly.



Responding To Others: Now or Later?

Every message you get begs the critical question “Do I deal with this now or later?” My tips:

  • Strive for zero inbox, in all areas of life (texts, Facebook, etc.). If you get a message you can act on/respond to in five minutes, do it in the moment. If you can’t, put it somewhere: on a calendar, in a project management system, wherever you are capturing the needed information. There is a reason this concept has been cool since 2007, more here: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/inbox-zero
  • Message the person. Responding to someone and acting on the item can be two different events. Acknowledge you received the info and, if you want, set a deadline about when they can expect to hear from you about it. People appreciate this step, even if it does take an extra 30 seconds. I am trying to be better about this myself.
  • If you don’t have a way to capture needed information (ex: Where do I put my grocery list?), that means you need a system. Your message box, whatever kind of message it is, is not a system!
  • Check ‘drafts’ folder and make sure that message you thought you wrote actually went out. I try to do this once a week and I always find something in there I thought I had sent out.

So in making sure your important communications go out and responding to other peoples’ communications go out, you are now in control of your outgoing messages! Congratulations! 

Nicole Ouellette
Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she's not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

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