SIDEWALKS

De-Ice Ingeniously

(Ignore this if you can see a palm tree from your window.) Long known for its ability to clean spilled oil off wild birds, Dawn dish soap has yet another animal-friendly quality, notes the blog One Good Thing: sidewalk de-icer. Mix 1 teaspoon of Dawn, 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol and a half-gallon of hot water. Pour it on the sidewalk. It won’t refreeze. (We tried it in 7-degree weather, but, sorry, when it dipped to -4, we couldn’t convince the dogs to venture out to see whether it was still working.)

MARKETING
Buy a Real Camera

Your business relies on photos for marketing, promotions and social media among myriad untold other uses, so please don’t rely on your cellphone to do it all. Yes, smartphone cameras have gotten better. Yes, some professional photographers have done some amazing projects using
iPhones. And yes, you’ve had some shots that everyone said “What a great photo!” But technology is still such that a real camera, preferably a digital SLR, is so far superior for getting images you can crop and manipulate for ads and marketing materials that no business should be without one — along with a couple of staff members whose job it is to know when to point and shoot it.

STRATEGY
Think While Walking

Some of Steve Jobs’ inner circle thought his penchant for taking long “brainstorming” walks eccentric. But neuroscience research proves Jobs was on to something, with recent studies showing that breakthrough ideas occur when the brain switches modes — from its task-oriented “executive network” to a creative “default network,” or what some researchers refer to as the “genius lounge.” The two work together. The executive network sets goals and identifies a problem while the default network comes up with solutions, although it does so in a meandering, free-ranging way. And taking a walk is the best way to trigger cooperation between the two modes, say Olivia Fox Cabana and Judah Pollack in their book The Net and the Butterfly: The Art and Practice of Breakthrough Thinking.

PRODUCTIVITY
Don’t Answer Email on Your Smartphone

Beware the urge to reply instantly to every email that drops into your smartphone’s inbox. There are two reasons: 1. It’s more efficient to use your desktop than your mobile’s tiny keyboard; and 2. You should be fully engaged when you are dealing with staff or customers and not distracted by your phone, says the Harvard Business Review’s “Guide to Getting the Right Work Done.”

DATA
Ask Just Two Things

Many businesspeople like to commission customer-satisfaction surveys. Mark Hughes, author of Buzzmarketing, saves you time and money by suggesting all but two questions are meaningless. The magic questions: 1. “How did you hear about us?” (to track word-of-mouth and marketing effectiveness); and 2. “Would you go out of your way to recommend our product/service to a friend?” (to measures customer evangelism, or buzz). Answers to both will show you whether you’re doing things right.

STORE DESIGN
Theme Your Door Handle

By The Way Bakery in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, uses a rolling pin as a door handle. Even customers outside the store can see how passionate the owners are about their product. What could your door handle be? How about a giant dog bone?

PRODUCTIVITY
Do Tomorrow’s To-Do’s Today

What do you do with the last 15 minutes of the day? Answer emails, schedule meetings, linger in the office before closing? Here’s a better way to spend the time: Draw up a to-do list for tomorrow. Be specific. It’s a great way to end the day and start the next productively.

MARKETING
Avoid Bad Words

According to Seth Godin, here are words that cause people to ignore your marketing message: “actually, totally, absolutely, completely, continually, constantly, literally, really, unfortunately, ironically, incredibly, hopefully and finally.” (We’d add “truly” to that list as well.)


This article originally appeared in the February 2018 edition of PETS+.