email signature mistakes

5 Email Signature Killers

I just received an email from a colleague. Below her email in the signature block were four words that packed the potential to do some serious damage:

“Sent from my iPhone.”

More on that in a moment. First, you must appreciate the position of the email signature. It’s the tagline of communication. The “what do you think of me now?” The lasting impression.

Some of us have signatures that do the job. Others go beyond and perform a bit of marketing magic. And a few of us are hacking away at our credibility with each message we send out. Here are five email signature don’ts that top my list:

 

1) Sent from my iPhone

Wow, you own an iPhone? I’m so impressed.

Whatever your reason for including this disclaimer, a good share of your audience thinks you’re a mobile snob.

No offense. The phone wars have turned many ordinary people into fiercely loyal brand evangelists. You may be proud of your preferred mobile platform, but many of your recipients have pledged allegiance to the other guys. What if they think you’re a loser for being “one of Them”?

Stupid, right? Totally. Is it worth subjecting yourself to unnecessary judgment? Totally not.

If you feel compelled to include a mobile proviso, I recommend saying, “Sent from my mobile phone.”

Tip: Check your mobile sig even if you didn’t intentionally add the mobile disclaimer. On many devices, it’s included by default.

 

2) Let’s talk about Jesus

That inspirational nugget of scripture in your email sig proclaims your religious pride. It also makes some of your business contacts feel squeamish as hell.

I once belonged to a business network where a handful of people would pray together before the meeting began. I asked one of them why he chose this venue to engage in the gospel. His response: “Because I owe my company’s success to Jesus.”

Crediting your business success to a deity rather than the person in your network who brought you that sweet referral last week is your choice.

Blasphemous as it may seem, some don’t share your views. Some see using religion in a business context as sacrilege. Is your position on the subject worth alienating a customer or prospect?

PS: Disregard this advice if you work in a religious organization.

PPS: The religion rule applies to politics, professional sports teams and any other personal conviction you don’t share with 100 percent of your audience.

 

3) “Signing” with cursive/handwriting fonts

Please respect my intelligence. It’s no coincidence that simulated-hand-scribed name at the bottom of your email happens to exactly match the Lucida Handwriting font.

Or Comic Sans. Or Brush Script. Or any other overused, silly looking typeface that doesn’t look anything like a person’s signature.

If that doesn’t convince you to change it to Arial, handwriting fonts have technical shortcomings, too. If I don’t have your particular font on my computer, it will be substituted with one that may look entirely different. In some cases, it will appear as digital gibberish.

Stick to a simple font to avoid problems.

Pro Tip: That scan of your handwritten signature may not show up at all since many email readers block images. Again, go with a plain typeface.

 

4) The tacky, prefab sign-off

Does your signature file include “Sincerely” above your name? Let us celebrate the time you save with that stroke of genius.

You may save one second with each email by having Sincerely, Yours truly or Have a great day prefilled. It pales in comparison to the insult you deliver.

Your recipient wants to feel your correspondence is actually sincere. If every email from you says “Thank you” at the bottom, it gets old. Unimaginative. Lazy. “Best regards” isn’t an appropriate closing after you delivered some serious news. “Best regards” also isn’t a natural way to end a message to a close friend.

Of course, sometimes the old standards fit just right. Match them to the recipient, and mix them up to show you care.

Or, eliminate the sign-off altogether. “Looking forward to seeing you Tuesday.” … “Glad to hear we’re moving forward.” … “Best of luck with the presentation.”

Bonus: Never close with, “Thanks.” The reader doesn’t perceive your gratitude nearly as effectively as when you write out, “Thank you.”

 

5) The MIA signature

With few exceptions, your emails should always culminate with your signature block.

Why make it harder for a person to contact you, or visit your web page, or engage with you via social media – or make a purchase from you?

Sure, your recipient may have it already. So what? Not only can you make his or her life easier at that moment, your signature:

  • may trigger a desire to visit your website for the first time
  • may be forwarded to a colleague who is in the market for your product
  • makes you look professional always instead of sometimes
  • ensures you won’t accidentally mistype your phone number or misspell your own name

If that’s not enough, the presence of your signature will never result in your recipient thinking, “Where’s his contact information?”

Exception: I did say, “with few exceptions.” If you’re conversing back and forth with a familiar contact and your e-sig appears once or more down below in the message thread, use your discretion to decide if it seems like overkill.

 

Did I miss any of your favorite signature killers? Do tell – in the comments section.

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The 3 Deadbeats Working in Your Home Office – Part 3: Connie

connieWelcome, entrepreneur/freelancer/go-getter.

You’ve met Farley and Patty, and you’re already feeling cheated by their unproductive ways. But I’ve saved the worst for last. She’s a big, crunchy, salty potato chip, and you can never stop at one. It’s practically impossible.

Strap in for Part 3.


Meet Connie, the Connected Employee

Connie likes to keep multiple tabs open in her browser. Some are articles she plans to read when she finds the time, a couple are client related, but her favorites are Facebook and Twitter. You rarely check on her, so Connie checks her Facebook friends’ posts whenever she feels like it.

Oh, she posts some clever responses!

Connie also checks email regularly because she wants to respond quickly to clients … but will follow a funny video link first. Or check out the deals from her favorite shopping sites. Or take several minutes to respond to a non-essential message from a friend who hates this or that. Connie’s constantly conning you out of your bread and butter.

Sucks that Connie is just another of your many personas.

Close the Facebook tab and save the non-essential emails for lunchtime or closing time. Social media can wait – as can so many other digital deliveries to your desktop. Take control of your time, and kick Connie to the curb.

If you started your own business thinking you’d enjoy more freedom and time to do what you want, you can have those things. They’re the result of hard work, dedication, efficiency and accountability. Those precious few hours from the time you wake until dinner time will make or break your success as an entrepreneur.

At the end of the day (or week, or month), you can enjoy the freelance life for all it represents: Freedom, career satisfaction, financial rewards and more.

Best of all, you can do it all with a staff of one.

The 3 Deadbeats Working in Your Home Office – Part 2: Patty

pattyGreetings, self-employed (or self-driven employed-by-someone-else) friend.

Now that you’ve met your secret employee, Farley (you did read Part 1, right?), you truly need to get acquainted with Patty. Where Farley encourages you to embrace distractions during your workday, Patty is a nut about efficiency and practicality. She gets things DONE. Sound like you?

This is the continuing saga of pesky multiple personalities – our multiple personalities. They rule our days, justify behavior we actually abhor and cleverly divert money from our paychecks.

Ready for Part 2?

Meet Patty, the Practical Employee

Did you know that if you shop for groceries early in the day, you beat the crowds? Patty does, and she’ll encourage you to do that – as well as take your car in for an oil change and do the dishes (your spouse will really love that). Hey, let’s paint the kitchen!

As far as Patty’s concerned, these things have to get done anyway. Go ahead and leverage all this freedom you have. You’ll feel like you accomplished a lot when 5:00 rolls around, even if you barely saw your computer. And Patty will feel that she truly earned the money she slipped out of your wallet. Notice how you and Patty seem to be at odds?

Rather than busy yourself with non-income building activities, do those things when “regular employed” people do them – in the evening or on the weekend. And show Patty the door.

Excited about meeting your third secret employee? Heeeeere’s Connie!

The 3 Deadbeats Working in Your Home Office – Part 1: Farley

me-in-kitchen-with-farley2Who ever guessed that I – a self-employed copywriter – had employees on the payroll?

Except for my little dog, Harry, I thought I was alone here … typing away in my small office, a spare bedroom in my home.

Fellow freelancers or companies of one, get up from your chair and look around. You need to meet the people who lack motivation, suck you into their time wasting activities, and – oh yes – get paid.

I’m talking about your other personalities, of course. The little voices in your head that talk you into doing anything but work. When you allow yourself to see them as real people sharing your space and time, things can get ugly.

To keep things short (and tease you into returning again and again), I’m sharing this hot info as a mini-series – one at a time. Of course, in the event you feel a sudden urge to rip me a new one for testing your will, all three parts are here on this blog.

Meet Farley, the Fun Employee

You spent years of your life working under the watchful eye of an employer before becoming your own boss. Suddenly, you could play fetch with your dog “to get the creative juices flowing.” You could have a two-hour lunch with an old friend “to network.” You could work on downloading a music compilation. No reason, Farley said it was okay.

Farley justifies any fun activity because, after all, you work hard. You deserve a little “me time.” Farley loves diversions and sucks you right in every time. Thing is, Farley gets paid just for showing up. And his salary comes out of your earnings. Just let this fun-loving employee take you on a few adventures and you’ll see it for yourself at the end of the month when bills are due.

Farley’s the reason you’ll miss a deadline or have to make an excuse to a client. At some point, you’ll realize the guy’s gotta go.

In the next installment, you’ll meet Patty, the practical employee. In a word, yikes.

 

Comments welcome!

What’s Your Business GPA?

What's Your Business GPA?Did you think high school was the last time you’d have to worry about your GPA? If you’re in business, you’re still chasing that 4.0.

I call it your Business GPA.

Customers get to see it all the time. So does your boss (if you have one). Wondering why you haven’t discovered it yourself? The odd thing about the Business GPA is that you’re the last person to see it.

This all-important score is relative to the people it affects most. The people you work for, the ones who make the decision to pay you in exchange for value. It’s based on their perceptions – how you stand out from others like you, the quality of the work you produce – and the things you do each day to be the best you can be.

So, while you may never see your score yourself, it’s a good thing you know about it. That’s Step 1 – understanding that it exists. The next step is to understand how to earn a score that’s judged by others … and what to do to get it to a 4.0, even if you never see it yourself.

Here’s a quick article that should inspire you.

Why Full Service Means No Service

Do you rely on the phrase “full service” to:
– advertise your company?
– explain your range of capabilities?
– appear bigger than your competition?

Full service may mean everything to you, but that’s because you know your business better than the rest of us. To a general audience, full service has all the impact of a blurry photo.

By telling us you are full service, you’re saying it’s cumbersome for you to list everything you do. Therefore, in order for me to get some meaning from the term, I have to do the thinking. While you’re busy selling me, I have to process what it is I think you do.

Worse, if you actually do everything, you specialize in nothing. If you do have a specialty, you blew it when you said you’re full service. See where I’m headed with this? Instead of adding meaning, full service has become meaningless.

I know only a few of the many products and services that make up your total offering. By relying on two words to give meaning your business, you ignore what differentiates you.

Decide what’s important about your business. What should people know to understand your capabilities and specialties? If you can, keep it short and specific. Memorable and digestible.

Put it in writing on your Web site and commit it to your own memory so you can pull it out when the time is right. You’re sure to create a sharp, focused picture in people’s minds that outperforms the promise of “full service” every time.

The Billable Time Principle

Save ... and BILL ... your pennies.Is your time billable? More specifically, can you put this particular moment on an invoice? How about the previous hour, or the one following this one?

First things first.

You’ll forgive yourself this particular five minutes in the event it falls in the non-billable column. A good education, after all, pays you back with interest. So enjoy this investment in time as I put a fresh shine on that age-old adage: Time is money.

More to the point, as a business owner, manager, or valued cog in the machinery, you owe it to yourself to fill your day with billable activities. Track your time as it passes, rather than trying to remember it at the end of the day. Recognize when a freebie is actually billable, and have the courage to put it on your invoice. Save the majority of your distractions until after 6:00.

Bonus: Some small distractions are beneficial, provided you are in control of them. Take your hands off the keyboard. Stand up, and take a brief, brisk walk. Stretch. Eat something healthy. Get a glass of water. Read a magazine article. Make that important call. Then get back into your work refreshed.

An unexpected interruption, on the other hand, forces you to slam the brakes on productivity and shift into neutral. Your brain has no idea where this is going to go. Getting back to where you were before the disruption means shifting back into first gear and going through the motions before hitting cruising speed again.

If you find yourself believing you need more hours in your day, maybe all you really need is to prioritize the hours you have.