Here are some helpful tips for converting leads more efficiently.
Don’t make leads wait. A quick follow up is paramount to converting leads and more than likely to convert to a sale. A slow follow up means losing business to a competitor. Company mail, where several people have access to ensure quick handling and customer service software are too good ways to handle incoming leads. Call them as soon as possible after they submit the web form.
All leads are potential sales. Provide a valuable first impression by presenting pertinent and accurate information, such as what you do, what problem you solve, how your business is different, and how your client’s life will be different after doing business with you. Show them you care. If a lead is on the phone, don’t miss the opportunity to ask them if they would like to subscribe to your mailing list. Nurture them for when they are ready to convert.
Your clients all possess unique needs, budgets, and so on. Your campaigns and messaging should reflect this. Look at ways to subdivide your target audience by characteristics unique to your market. The easiest way to do this is to cross-section your email lists. Then you can adjust your message subject line and email content, and call to action (your offer) for each list.
Focus on your best leads first. This is simplest course of action for a quick sale. Look at the previous buying history. Once you’ve identified your ideal leads, rank them by their understood probability for conversion.
A CRM system may be helpful, as your business grows, for monitoring the stage of the sales process the leads are in and the activities accomplished. The dashboards visualize your sales data with charts and are predefined to fit your needs. They streamline your business through structuring everyday tasks such as logging activities, sending out offers, follow-ups, and the ability to keep all information in one place and be able to see customer history. You can go through sales cases and observe which stage they are in and get a status on the progress. If they are updated regularly it’s easy to spot which cases you need to focus on.
Create a dedicated landing page on your website for each campaign. Include content on your landing page that’s relevant to the message or offer you sent. If you send out emails or ads that just link back to your home page the leads will navigate around looking for an offer. That may lose you a lead and a sale.
Advertising is the single most important element in converting sales leads. Without advertising no one knows who you are or what you offer them. If you are a small business, you should be spending 7-8 percent of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising. Face it, if they haven’t heard of you they will never become a lead to convert.
The personal touch is important, and a CRM system can make your work more efficient. But without first advertising what you and your company can provide that the client needs, all the rest is moot.
Lions and Tigers and Turkeys-Oh Wow!
Here is an article, (Lions and Tigers and Turkeys-Oh Wow!), about the Saint Augustine Wildlife Reserve, that I recently had published in the CreekLine Publication in Saint Johns County, FL It was published as a two part series and appeared in the March (pages 18 & 22) and April ( pages 26 & 28) issues. I hope you’ll read it and let me know if you enjoyed it and found it informative.
Or Read It Here …
Lions and tigers AND turkeys– oh wow!
The Saint Augustine Wild Reserve
by C.B. Swartz
They are heard like a beautiful natural chorus of chuffs, howls, giggles, grunts, and clicks. It inflames the imagination with the scene of a tent near a campfire in a deep jungle setting in the wilds of an exotic location in Africa. Yes, it could well be just as we imagine, but this choir can sometimes be heard by residents of an average Saint Augustine, Florida neighborhood if they listen carefully. Its members are lions, tigers, bears, wolves, hyenas, servals, lynx, ligers, porcupine and even turkeys. They all live happy, carefree lives at the Saint Augustine Wild Reserve, located in West Saint Augustine near World Golf Village.
It is a cold, wet, and gloomy day, uncharacteristic for Saint Augustine even an afternoon in December, but the spirits of the volunteers are not dampened as they prepare for the tour. They are loading up the golf cart they use to get around the Reserve with food and equipment, preparing the various diets and meals for the animals and cleaning enclosures. All the volunteers take on a plethora of tasks and chores, including but not limited to cleaning, diet, meal prep, tour guiding, and training. It is clear from their actions that the mutual effort comes from the heart. Volunteer tour guide Karen has been at the Reserve for approximately twelve years and it is obviously a labor of love for her. She is conducting the tour today while the other volunteers follow along with the golf cart.
The tour members drive over a few winding roads to the entrance of the Reserve. There is no signage, but no one has a problem finding it. The Reserve, entrenched between an abundance of venerable oaks, pines, and palms is nestled next to a spring filled lake. Some lush vegetation lost to recent hurricanes, is coming back. Other than the loss of one of the large enclosures due to a tree falling on it, there was no other significant damage.
Karen is at the gate to receive the tour members. They exchange pleasantries as they walk down a short, coquina sand path to a table with benches under a large weathered arbor. The arbor is just outside the approximately 12 feet tall chain link fence, which encloses the entire Reserve. Waiting by the table is, as Karen introduces them, Linda, Marty, Kathy and Fred, four other volunteers.
The group of twelve tourists gathers at the entrance to the main enclosure. Karen says in the summer months the numbers jump to ninety to one hundred people on the tour. There is a mixed demographic of people from elementary children to great-grandparents.
All eyes focus on a gorgeous bright colored Macaw inside the enclosure in its own cage. The volunteers call her O’Hara and she is just as attention-grabbing as her namesake. Whatever she is trying to say, as she dances around in her blazing feathered costume, she is adamant about it. In a large cage next to her is a relatively calm, bright green, blue and red Military Macaw named Max, trying not very successfully, to get a word in. Military macaws have recently been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Volunteer Linda opens the gate to the main enclosure and directs the group to tour guide, Karen who is standing next to an enclosure just inside the gate. To some members, it looks like a cute baby deer inside, but Karen corrects them. It is, a small white-tail deer, called Amira, which they found as a baby. Amira scrutinizes the group with endearing large brown eyes.
Gathering in and around the group, as if they are members, are a great number of Crested Polish Chickens and Royal Palm Turkeys. There are also some Vultures who show up wanted or not. The Crested Polish Chicken is an ancient breed, originating in England in 1565, at about the same time St. Augustine was founded. Considered an ornamental breed, the hens lay beautiful white eggs that are smaller than other chicken eggs.
The Royal Palm Turkeys are ornamental birds weighing up to twenty-two pounds and are not selected for the meat industry. There is one following Karen and vocalizing as if to take over the tour. The turkey’s name is ‘Lucky’ because Deborah saved her egg. She found an abandoned nest and picked the egg apart to see how developed the chick was. To her surprise, there was a healthy, very much alive turkey chick inside. She extracted it from the shell, kept it on a heating pad and raised it into the adult hen we see today. Lucky soon becomes a favorite of the group. As the tour continues Lucky talks to the big cats and the cats seem to like talking back.
One of the group asks if the animals surrendered to the reserve by Michael Jackson are still here. Karen explains, “Those animals, five Arctic Wolves, and an African Lion, passed away some time ago.” This is the most well-known acquisition of animals by the reserve, but they have rescued unwanted exotic animals from many sources. From individuals who get an exotic pet, only to realize that the animal’s wild nature doesn’t fit into their life (or their household) as they expected. Two wolves rescued when their owner had a fatal auto accident. Many of the animals are confiscated by wildlife agencies from individuals who held these animals without proper state permits, or who starved their animals, keeping them in inferior conditions. The Reserve also takes in unwanted exotic animals as an alternative to euthanasia. There are almost as many stories behind the acquisitions as there are animals.
The tour group is standing before an enclosure where Savuti and Cynzer, African Servals, live. Karen tells them, “Servals are the only cats with both stripes and spots and have the longest legs in proportion to their bodies of any cat family member. They can jump 10 feet straight up into a flock of birds.” Deborah Warrick, the Founder of the Reserve, brought them with her from California, where she did Disney shows with them.
Deborah has worked with exotic animals all her life, having received extensive training at the Los Angeles Zoo. She has received her AA Degree, and B.S. Degree in Holistic Nutrition to better care for the animals’ nutritional needs. She earned her B.S. degree in Biology in 2011, graduating Magna Cum Laude. The Reserve is her labor of love and she has an ongoing relationship with each animal at the Reserve.
It is undeniable that all the volunteers have a similar connection with the animals. They treat them as their children, playing with them as they feed them. The work is tedious and dirty, and all the workers are unpaid volunteers. Yet they come back each day because they have a passion for what they do.
The tour is observing Malyshka, a Siberian Lynx. Her claws crunch on dried leaves and sticks as she paces back and forth inside her enclosure. She is not large relative to the other cats, but she looks strong and formidable. Karen approaches the enclosure and places her hand on the wire. Malyshka strides over and throws herself against the wire so that Karen can stroke her through the small openings in the chain link. “Malyshka”, she explains, “means ‘baby girl’ in Russian.” She was bred as a pet at the request of a buyer. When she was three months old, the buyer didn’t want her anymore; so, the breeder sent her to the reserve.
The group watches as the volunteers tend to their tasks without complaint. “Here is Serabi, a beautiful, sweet African Lioness. She comes from the Barbary Coast and is a very large girl, weighing approximately 5oo pounds”, Karen is saying. “I call her ‘my baby’. I have been kissing her on the head since she was just 33 days old and I still do.” Serabi rubs against the enclosure, where Karen is standing, in an obvious play for attention.
Then the other volunteers approach with the food on the golf cart. Serabi clearly knows what this means. She forgets about cuddles and her full attention goes to food. The chain link door between the main enclosure and the retaining cage rises, and she makes low guttural sounds as she enters. Pacing back and forth, she waits for dinner to be served. Volunteers Linda, Cathy and Fred quickly enter the main cage and turn the large metal vessel full of raw chicken and beef onto the top of Serabi’s den, then make a swift exit. They open the door of the retaining cage, and leave her with it.
This seems to be the pattern as we pass in front of another enclosure housing the Reserve’s first beautiful White Tiger, Angel. She is a soft creamy white with light grey stripes. She had an orange sister, Shekhina, who passed away in 2014. Both Angel and Shekhina were in the same litter. Breeding two white tigers together results in all white cubs. When you breed two heterozygous tigers together, there is a 50-50 chance of getting white tigers. If you breed a white tiger to a heterozygous tiger, there is a 75-25 chance of getting a white tiger.
Toruk and Eywa two other White Tigers were born to Bindhi, a rescued orange (heterozygous) tiger. They had little time to construct a cage for Bindhi and her mate, Krishna, who were scheduled for euthanasia by their former owner. Volunteers built a nice habitat for the pair and began construction of a separate cage for Bindhi since they don’t breed tigers. They built a cage and moved Bindhi. One hundred-six days later, she produced two beautiful cubs! Those cubs were a great and wonderful surprise.
The tour group now stands before the enclosure of Sitarra, a rare Golden Tabby Tiger. Her name means “Star of India”. She is one of only about 30 in the world with that color mutation, which is caused by a recessive gene. Like the White Tiger, it is a color form and not a separate species. When she was with her former owner, she had distemper, a deadly disease in cats, but she survived and is very healthy now. How fortunate it is to see these beautiful rare animals right here in The Saint Augustine Wild Reserve.
“Here is Seze”, Karen remarks, “one of several large Tigers, weighing in at around 700 pounds. She loves bubble-gum flavored bubble baths and is leash walked.” The group is captivated as they watch the volunteers run around the outside of the enclosure playfully encouraging Seze to catch them. There is no doubt she is loving it.
They continue their four-acre tour when suddenly, Karen howls. The group exchanges bewildered glances. Then they catch sight of the enclosures ahead where several wolves of different colors and sizes are emitting a cacophony of howling in return. Among them are Kashmir, Magic, Aspen, Chaska, and Nakai. Isis and Saber, the Gray Wolf pair whose bond exceeded the human marital bond, passed away some time ago. The alpha pair is the most important relationship in a wolf pack.
Wolves howl to bond with their pack mates, to reunite their pack if they become separated, to advertise their territory to other wolf packs, and to rally for a hunt. Each wolf’s howl is unique to that animal and can be heard from great distances.
As the tour goes on, the group is introduced to Jasmine, the Cougar, Kenya and Eclipse, the Black Leopards, the Spotted Leopard, Nemesis, Lola, the Coati Mundi, Cozy Bear, the American Black Bear, a gorgeous Peacock and so many more.
Everyone is enjoying the tour. So much so that the end has come before they know it and they all agree, they are sad that it is over. The volunteers have made everyone feel like a part of the family with this informative and entertaining tour. Their mission is to provide the best place possible for the animals to live out their days and that is abundantly clear here.
It isn’t possible to relate all the incredible experiences The Saint Augustine Wild Reserve tour provides in the space allotted in this article; but, you can take this remarkable tour, see it for yourself and discover a world of beautiful exotic birds and animals!
Publish Your Personal Essay
If you are looking for a place to get your Personal Essay published look no further than THE WRITE LIFE website. Lisa Rowan has compiled a great list of 20 publications that accept essay submissions, as well as tips on how to pitch the editor, who to contact and, whenever possible, how much the outlet pays.
“Don’t worry if your life doesn’t seem exciting or heart-wrenching enough to expound upon; says Lisa, think of it as writing through yourself, instead of about yourself.”
According to Ashley C. Ford, ” Writing nonfiction is not about telling your story, It’s about telling interesting and worthy stories about the human condition using examples from your life.” Everyone has a story to tell and a message to share. The challenge lies in getting that story and message out of your head and into print.
I see the beginnings of them on Facebook and various personal blogs all the time. Why not explicate those beginnings, and create your own Personal Essay for publication? We hunger for real stories from people who are willing to share their failings, trials, and anecdotes in a way in which we can relate.
I have always been a very private person where it involves my personal life, but it might just be fun and even therapeutic to put some of those long pent up feelings and thoughts on the pages of a Personal Essay.
Murder On Anastasia Island – Chapter One
The eerie quietness induces a discomfiting feeling as the young blond woman, hair blowing in the brisk salt breeze, makes her way along the water’s edge. As the tide continues its dusky ingress onto the beach, it makes it more difficult to get through; forcing her to detour into the dark riparian forest of palm trees and cedars.
She walks down the familiar sloping path close to her cottage as she does almost every day. Reaching the light tan sand of the beach common to Florida’s eastern coastline, she speeds up to an energetic jog. She almost never runs this section of the beach, but she feels like a change. “Heaven knows there isn’t much changing around here. It seems like the only thing that changes on this island is the tide,” she mutters, as she leaps over a large piece of displaced driftwood without breaking stride.
The shadowy darkness of the forest is playing on her imagination. A bone-chilling feeling of foreboding is convincing her she is not alone; that someone is watching her. Unable to shake the alarming notion, she quickens her steps to put the impressions behind her. She can feel the hair stand up on the back of her neck as she senses movement just outside her peripheral vision.
Distracted by her looming fears, she stumbles through an underbrush of low growing palm ferns. Then, the earth gives way beneath her foot; causing her to pitch to the ground grasping at air as she falls.
She lies motionless in the soggy bed of tropical underbrush, a line of blood trickling from the wound on the side of her head turning her pale hair to noctilucent henna. The jungle-like forest seems to grow even darker as the rising morning sun goes behind a cloud; and from deep in the thicket, a menacing form emerges. He creeps closer to her as she lay helpless in an ever-deepening pool of crimson fluid. The large dark form bends down reaches out with huge minacious hands; scoops her up and lumbers away.
To Freelance or Not to Freelance
There are many reasons people seek a career in freelance writing. Making extra money, being laid off from their regular job, special circumstances changing the way they can make a living are a few. Others may long to see their names in print, want to make a difference or dream of creating something of lasting beauty.
I chose freelance writing because I need the freedom to work as I see fit, in my own time. I wanted to be creative and prove to myself that I could. On a subconscious level, some of the other things listed may have entered into the decision as well. I simply wanted to communicate my ideas to the reading public.
Once the decision is made, for whatever reason, then what? Freelance writing is a profession just like any other. Luck and talent play their part, but success as a writer requires training, perseverance, and discipline. Suppose you wanted to become a doctor without going to medical school. How many hospitals would hire an untrained physician? In like manner, editors rarely give aspiring writers a break simply because they have a benevolent nature.
I’ve found that definite rules and procedures govern the publishing world and mastering those rules will increase your chances of landing commercial writing assignments. To become a freelance writer, I focused on developing and refining skills I had already achieved such as style and grammar.
A freelance writer is an independent contractor hired to provide a publication with an original piece of writing within an agreed upon time. Freelance writers sell their work to magazines, newspapers, and journals. Once the manuscript has been delivered and any adjustments or revisions have been made, it’s time move on to new—and more lucrative—assignments.
Financial considerations aside, the most rewarding aspect of the freelance life is the prerogative to explore only the topics and ideas that you find interesting. You also have a flexibility in setting up your work schedule and establishing the pace at which you want to work. A certain amount of perambulation is required to maintain those benefits, however, if you intend to make freelance writing your primary career.
In the beginning, you may have to combine your freelance writing with a regular job. You must budget every hour you devote to writing. This doesn’t reflect on your ability to develop a full-time career as a writer. On the contrary, most writers do this at the start of their careers. Nobel Prize-winning novelist William Faulkner wrote his first novels while shoveling coal in a Mississippi power plant. Many writers continue to work in their previously chosen fields even after they’ve published their work. The romantic notion of writers sitting in their ivory towers creating masterpieces is an unrealistic myth. Almost all good writing comes from being actively engaged in the real world.
So, if you’re sitting on the fence between writing and keeping the status quo, I say go for it. You’ll never know if you don’t try. You’ll soon find out if you have it in you to create something you’ll be proud of and share it with others interested in what you have to say. That’s exactly what I’m doing here. I hope you’ll join me.