Friday, March 31, 2006

3 Simple Ways to Get Mentioned In The Media

Are you intimidated and overwhelmed by the thought of writing press releases and trying to get yourself booked for radio interviews. I know I was for a long time.There are a number of ways to get yourself mentioned in the media without too much effort. These small efforts will help to build your confidence for bigger efforts.

Here they are:
  1. Many radio stations have morning call in shows that address various local or national issues. Call in to these as often as possible. Avid listeners of these programs will start to recognize you by name. Additionally people at the radio station may get to know you and call you in for an interview if they find you to be interesting.
  2. Write editorials to your local papers. If you market to a national audience consider the New York Times which is read throughout the U.S. and in Canada. In Canada consider writing to papers such as the Globe and Mail or National Post.
  3. Submit recipes or other information. Many small local papers have regular columns that readers can submit recipes or other information. A small thing. However one of the points of publicity is to get your name mentioned in as many places as possible, no matter how large or small. Of course hopefully the press is favourable.
So consider these tips to get your name mentioned in the media. You never know who is going to be reading that recipe you sent in. Let's get cooking.

Become a Better Person to Promote Your Business

One way to get yourself known in the community is through community service. I have personally done volunteer work in the past and found it a very rewarding and enjoyable experience.

Volunteering in the community will put you in touch with the people that run the organization and the people that you will be serving. These people are potential clients or contacts that may get extra business for you. Also the service you are doing for your community will help to foster goodwill for your business.

Here are some points to keep in mind when considering volunteering:

  • Make sure you have a definite interest in the group you are volunteering with. Your genuine interest and caring should come before your interest in increasing your business in this case. Especially considering you may often be working with venerable populations such as children and seniors.
  • First look at what your interests are. There is a volunteer organization to match just about every interest. Your community should have a community volunteer recruitment centre that can help you find an organization you are interested in.
  • Be prepared to volunteer at least 2-4 hours of your time. Consider this an investment in your community and yourself as a human being.
As a massage therapist I have volunteered for many organizations. One notable one is the Arthritis Society. I was a volunteer on their board of directors. Unfortunately this service was discontinued in the community I was living in. However as a massage therapist had I been involved with the arthritis society for a longer period I have no doubt I would have had my name mentioned in the press from events they held for fund raising. How great is that! I am doing something for a worthwhile cause I believe in and getting free publicity for myself. Additionally some of the other people on the board were in fields complementary to mind. The networking opportunities were plentiful.

So consider adding volunteer work to your schedule. You will become a better person and market yourself at the same time.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

10 Ways Keep In In Touch With Your Clients

How often have you said"I need to make an appointment with my massage therapist." Then you forget. Keeping in touch with your clients is important as it keeps you in their memory. They are more likely to do business with you again if you keep in touch.

Here are 10 ways to keep in touch with your clients.

  1. If you are a service business, especially health-care service such as massage therapy or chiropractic follow-up in a couple days (by phone)from their first visit to see how they enjoyed your service. Ask them if they would like to rebook.
  2. Newsletters at least every three months.
  3. Birthday cards
  4. Christmas cards or a Christmas letter.
  5. Customer surveys.
  6. An annoucement.
  7. A contest ballot.
  8. A postcard with special offer or business annoucement.
  9. A news clipping or articles that may interest them.
  10. A tips sheet or fact list.
So there are some ideas to get you started. Now come up with your own ideas. This will be an effort you won't regret.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Expand Your Network With Blogging

There is an interesting article on The Marketing Diva Blog called I Love Bloggers. This article talks about blogging as a networking tool.

This is so true. Blogging allows you to send out your ideas to the world and then you receive feedback on your ideas. This begins a discussion which over time may lead to friendships and business associations. Also you can leave comments on other peoples blogs which will have the same effect.

As a new blogger I am still working on building up those relationships. Like networking in person it takes time to foster relationships. However unlike flesh and blood networking you can develop connections on the other side of the world. Furthermore some people have actually met some of these fellow bloggers in person and developed the connection further.

It is like the old saying goes "Your network only works if you work it!". I feel this phrase definitely applies. So if you haven't started a blog already consider doing it. Then post often and respond to any comments you get and leave comments for other Bloggers. Over time you will develop your network.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Toastmasters can Make You A More Effective Marketer

I once thought Toastmasters was just a public speaking group. Now after being a member for more than eight years I have realized it is so much more.

This is what Toastmasters has done for me and can do for you as well.
  1. I have enhanced my leadership skills. I have been in various executive committee positions in various clubs including president at two different clubs.
  2. It has made me more interesting and more interested.
  3. It has given me a group of people that I consider friends no matter which club I am in. The fellowship is amazing.
  4. Has improved my ability to evaluate other people as well as myself.
All these elements have added up to increased self confidence, self-esteem, assertiveness and passion. These are all qualities you need to foster if you want to be a shameless self promoter.

In addition the practice I have had writing and presenting speeches has helped teach me how to tighten up my message.

So consider going out to a Toastmaster meeting and see what it is all about. If you would like more information go to the Toastmasters International website. There are links there that will point you to a club in your area.

My Experiences with The $1000,000 Experiment

I have been an avid reader of Steve Pavlina's Blog. He writes mainly about personal growth with a focus on personal success. Recently I signed up for his $1000,000 experiment. The basic idea is that you hold the intention of manifesting $1000,000 into your life and the lives of other people who hold this intention. I must say I have not become a millionaire yet. A couple things I have noticed though are that I have been investing more energy into activities such as this blog that could potentially make me more money. Also I have been in contact with more money making opportunities. One women tried to sign me up for Melaleuca which is a MLM( I declined) the day after I started holding this intention.

So what has this got to do with marketing? By holding the intention of making more money you will become more driven to do what is necessary to make money and you will increase your marketing activities.

Give this a try. You have nothing to loose.

A Great Networking Idea

Networking is one of the more effective marketing strategies yet is one of the hardest to implement because of the time and energy involved in using it.

Well I believe this service may make it a little easier. AT MeetUp.com you can arrange meetings in your area that cover your interests. I was first introduced to this at The Small Business Blog.

You could organize networking meetings that are focused in your area of expertise, for people ages 20-30, men women or any other area you are interested in . There may even be a meet up group organized that interests you. I definitely will be trying this out in the future. I feel it is a great place to connect with like minded people.

Also there has been a rumour that Yahoo may be buying this site. When they do the popularity of this site could explode(although it is already very popular). Thus giving many more opportunities to connect with people.

Give this a try and let me know what happens.

Be Unusual!

Being unusual is a good marketing technique because it helps people remember you. For example Patricia Fripp who is a public speaker has a whole collection of unusual hats she wears. People remember her as the person with the interesting hats. On the same note the comedian Phyllis Diller was known for her outlandish costumes. Her outfit was the first gag in her routine and is what made her memorable.

So how can you use this. Think of something that you can do that will make you more memorable. Perhaps for a man it could be wearing cowboy hats or interesting belt buckles. For a women it could be your shoes, hats or outfit. A florist may want to have a collection of Hawaiian floral shirts. A drycleaner may always have a fresh pressed suit on with unusual ties. Use your imagination here.

So don't be just average, be unusual. Who knows people might start calling you the guy with the cowboy hats or the shoe lady.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Uniquely You. The Unique Selling Proposition

A unique selling proposition( USP) is a statement about what makes you different from other people with your product or service. It is what defines your target market or niche.

Often a USP is used as a companies slogan or jingle. It may be used on all marketing materials and sometimes becomes the main focus of an advertising campaign. I am sure most of you remember Wendy's " Where's the beef" and McDonald's " You deserve a break today". These are both very brief USPs.

So how do you create a USP? Ask yourself these questions.
  • What makes my business unique from my competitors?
  • What group of people am I targeting?
  • What specific problem(s) do my business address?
  • How can I solve these problems?
So basically you are looking at a specific group of people and seeking ways to solve that problem.
For example a florist who is targeting busy executives my have a USP that says " Flowers delivered to your office in 1 hour or there free." For myself writing this blog " I am just a regular guy that happens to have some first hand knowledge of marketing that I am willing to share with you the small business owner"

Here is more on unique selling propositions from Abraham.com.

Please share your USP if you come up with one.

What is Your Vision Statement?

A vision statement is the image you see of your business over time and the contribution you will make to society in your business.

Often vision and mission statements are confused. Basically a mission statement talks about the "purpose" of your business and a vision statement talks about the "blueprint" for your business success.

So why is a vision statement important? First of all a vision statement helps you to focus your energies in your marketing towards where you want your business to be. It gives you a destination. I have also seen a vision statement prominently displayed in business or on web sites. Your customers will gain confidence that you are in this for the long haul and you have a plan when they read your vision statement.

Here is a short exercise to try before you develop your vision statement. I want you to close your eyes and imagine that your company has reached the ultimate limit of success. Think in your mind of this successful person what success looks like. How have you contributed to the betterment of your community,country and/orworld. Next I want you to feel the feelings and confidence you will have knowing you have really made a difference. The more vividly you imagine this and the more excited you get the better.

Now write down some of the things you imagined in this exercise. This will be the basis for your vision statement.

Here is an article I came across that talks more about vision statements and gives some examples.

What's Your Mission Statement?

A mission statement is a one paragraph statement that reflects the reason your business is in existence.

Just like your business story your mission statement should be in front of your clients as much as possible. It could be on your website, business cards and a prominent spot in your business.

There is no one way to construct a mission statement. According to Janel M. Radtke at the Grantsmanship Centre a mission statement should answer three questions which are:
  1. What are the opportunities or needs that we exist to address? ( the purpose of the organization)
  2. What are we doing to address these needs? (the business of the organization)
  3. What principles or beliefs guide our work? ( The values of the organization)

I personally feel the most important aspect to consider is your values. This is what is going to resonate with your clients the most. If your values are in line with their, they will be more likely to do business with you.

Here is the mission statement of my massage therapy business as an example.

" I am dedicated to offering my clients the highest standard of health care through quality massage therapy treatments, and committed to supporting my clients to make informed decisions about their own health care in a friendly, professional environment."

As you can see I have not totally followed this template. However as I said there is no cut and dry method to doing this.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Have A Memorable Story

I am sure just about everyone knows the rags to riches story of the founders of Ben and Jerry's. This is it in a nutshell if you have not heard it. Two college buddies who are below average students decide they want to start a business. They find and take a correspondence course on ice cream making. They become multi millionaires through excellent publicity and PR marketing.
Of course there is more to it than that. It is a very entertaining and memorable story that they even have a short film about on the Ben and Jerry's factory tour in Vermont.

Do you have an entertaining or memorable story you can share about yourself and your business? The key is to use your story anywhere you can. Use it on your flyers, website and on the wall of your business. You could even have a condensed version on the back of your business card.

Your story could be in a timeline format starting from day one of your business. Also use humour and list notable achievements in your story.

So tell them your story. You definitely will become more memorable.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Do Customer Loyalty Programs Work?

I have noticed less of those little punch cards that say "Buy 9 get one free" in recent years. I have used these with limited sucess in my business. Perhaps like other forms of marketing that become popular it reached a point of saturation and it lost its effectiveness.

Today the points card programs seem to be more popular. However they too may reach a point of saturation.

Here are two blog articles I came across.

At Business Pundit the belief is that these programs are no longer effective because they are used so often.

At Mantra Brand Consulting you are given a few things to think about if you do decide to adopt a customer loyalty program.

I will perhaps write more about this topic in future posts, as I feel there is more to be said. Tell me what you think.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Why Focus Your Marketing on Publicity over Paid Advertising?

It is my belief that Publicity Marketing should be the cornerstone of your business.

Why do I say this?

As a small business owner I know how tight our budget can be. Especially when first starting a business.

The experiences I have had with paid advertising aren't great. The results can be pretty bleak. I have bought advertising in well circulated media that has only netted me a couple of clients. Yet before I pay for the ad other people tell me to be prepared for a rush of business after the ad is published. I have seen other businesses have the same poor results. One hair salon I worked at had a radio station in her parking lot giving out prizes. Meanwhile the location and information about her business were being broadcast throughout the day. A few clients came into the shop at best after that event. The hair salon shut down shortly after this.

The problem is some entrepreneurs buy advertising out of desperation and promises of a flood of customers coming through the door. I have never met a small business owner who has had a flood of business after paid advertising.

Why the poor results? I believe that it is because these days we are so inundated with advertising that one paid ad campaign makes a small dent on our consciousness. Also I believe people are becoming cynical. There are so many false promises in the advertising world.

So why choose publicity marketing?

First of all having your name in print or mentioned in an interview is huge. The credibility you gain in the eyes of the consumer is at least ten-fold over what you would gain from a paid ad.

Publicity marketing takes more effort. You have to write press releases and solicit interviews among other things. However the pay-off in the long run can be great in terms of client base and building celebrity status in your community. Besides I find this type of marketing is fun and can really stimulate your imagination. The results you gain are only limited by your creativity, effort and enthusiasm.

Also marketing in this way may not get you the instant results so often promised by paid advertising. It is my hope that you know that getting rich quick does usually not happen. You are looking at least a good two years to establish your business and that is with persistent marketing.

So should you ditch paid advertising altogether? I don't think so. However if one paid ad is going to be a hardship on your pocket book I would stick with Publicity until you improve your financial situation. Please share your opinions and experiences with me in the comments section on these types of advertising.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Become a Local TV Celebrity

Have you ever wanted to be on TV? Have you had a great program idea that ties into your business?

When I was living in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada I had an idea for a program on our local community access channel. It was to start a talk show style program on Holistic health. In this program I would interview local holistic/complementary therapy practitioners in the community. My goal was to gain some recognition for not only myself as a Massage Therapist but other people in the community who were in similar fields such as chiropractic.

This is the process I went through.
  • I approached the station with my idea.
  • They had me come in for a volunteer orientation evening where they decribed what goes on behind the scenes and the positions available such as camera person or producer.
  • They had me research episode ideas. The one I submitted to them was on Reiki therapy.
  • I came in for an on air for audition.
  • They told me that they would hold on to my idea until they had volunteers to run the program. In addition to being host they wanted me to be producer of the program.

Sadly they never did get the resources together to run my program. However this is something I would like to re-explore in the future. This also illustrates the hit or miss nature of public relations and publicity marketing. I have no doubt that had I started a successful program I would have gotten a ton of great publicity that would have translated to more clients finding my services.

This is an idea that you may want to try. Some other business I have seen do this are Computer Repair shops and Home Decorators. You may consider a "How To" format or interview format.

The benefit of this idea is the free airtime you receive which I feel is far superior to paid advertising. The downside to this idea is the time commitment and work that goes into creating your own program and running it usually on a regular basis. However I think as a small business owner you already know that it takes effort and persistence to build your business. I feel the effort put into this would definitely be paid back over time.

You may not be the next Tom Cruise or Oprah Winfrey. But you may become a local celebrity in your community. People might start to say" Hey, you are that guy/girl on TV!"

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Get on Televison By Answering the Phone

About four months ago I volunteered as a operator at WPBS Watertown, New York. This was to support their membership drive. I would answer phones and collect information for pledges to the station.

Where the marketing opportunity came in here was that in return the station gave Toastmasters(which I am a member of) some airtime during a pledge break to ask a few questions about the organization and they also broadcast how people could reach us. Also Toastmasters was mentioned a numbers of times during pledge breaks. I only volunteered for this once, however the Toastmaster that called myself and a fellow club member down from Brockville, Ontario, Canada does this on a regular basis to promote Toastmasters in his area.

This would be a great idea for any small business owner to adopt. First find out if you have a TV station close to you that has regular member drives. Next call them and ask if they are looking for volunteers to answer phones. Chances if you have a PBS Station in your community, they do this. Finally ask them if you can get a little air time in return. At the very least they may mention your business. This kind of promotion is invaluable and only costs you your time. It is also fun and you are doing something good for a valuable community service.

Let me know if you try this idea. Good luck!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Are you passionate about your business?

Having passion for your particular field of expertise is very important. In my opinion the person who can sell almost anything even if they are not passionate about it is rare.

If you are marketing a product or service you are not passionate about, you are limiting your success and quality of life. If you are in the wrong field, get out of it or at the very least seek some training formally or informally until you are ready to switch over full-time.

Some benefits to marketing a product or service that you believe in are:
  • You can be honest with people as you believe in your product. In turn people will see that honesty and learn to trust you.
  • It is a product that is more likely to succeed as you already know you have a solid product.
  • It can be fun and rewarding.
  • You don't have to worry about going to jail by ripping off people through selling get rich quick scheme. How many of these do we see on the internet?
  • You will be more motivated to keep on going even when sales may not be as brisk as you had hoped.
Here is a list of questions you need to ask yourself regarding your business:
  • Is my chosen field in tune with my values?
  • Are my marketing methods in line with my values?
  • Do I believe in my product or service?
  • Am I passionate about my product or service?
  • How can I convey this passion to others?
  • How can I create more passion in my business?
  • What are my reasons for being self employed?
You can also come up with your own questions. Do this personal inventory on a regular basis. If you have any negative responses to any of these questions you need to look at how you can turn them into a positive.

By following a passion in your work approach you will not only enjoy life more but you will increase the chances that your business will be a success.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Give Your Press Releases A Unique and Current Angle

There is an interesting blog post at publicityhound.net called:

PR Web Canada a great way for fitness trainer to give advice to Canada'’s portly prime minister
This post talks about finding a news piece and piggybacking off it to create a unique angle for a press release. Examples of other services that could have created an angle from this are a Nutritionist or Diet Centre owner.

This idea is a variation of creating a press release that ties your business into a popular topic. Remember how popular dinosaurs were when "Jurassic Park" came out?

These techniques can be very effective for taking something that may not be too interesting to the media and making it come alive.

If you come up with a unique spin on your business that relates to a current news piece, write it in the comments section. I would love to see how you have or could use this technique.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Publicity Blogs

Here are a couple of publicity blogs I have come across that I feel have really useful information.

http://www.publicityhound.net/
This blog has a lot of useful information regarding how to write great press releases.

http://articlewritingtips.blogspot.com/
This blog talks mainly about how to write articles to promote your website. I think this is a good idea, however I have not tried it myself yet. I believe this information is also useful if you are writing press releases.

These two blogs will give you a good start on how to write good copy. I will be writing more in the future about press releases. Happy writing and good luck!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Tips on Expanding Your Network

Networking is probably one of the most intimidating aspects of marketing for some people. Especially people like myself who are born introverts. However like myself introverts can definitely exhibit extrovert behavior with some effort. If you are already an extrovert chances are you already know and use these tips I am about to share with you. Here they are

  • Use your ready made network which includes family friends, doctor, lawyer and other people you do business with.
  • Let these people know what you are up to in your business and how they can help. You may be starting a business or looking for more clients.
  • Ask each person if they can refer you three others.
  • If appropriate to your field offer an incentive or finders fee. For example as a massage therapist it is considered unethical in the province of Ontario to do this.
  • Meet with professionals that are complimentary to your business and share what it is you do with them.
  • If you receive a referral, follow-up with them in twenty four hours.
  • Give referrals to people you would like to receive referrals from or you have received referrals from.
  • Expand your group of friends and contacts by joining clubs such as Toastmasters or getting involved in groups at your church. These have both been a source of clients and referrals for me in the past
  • Create a one page handout you can give to potential referrers. This could be a FAQ sheet to prompt them on common questions they might receive from other people on your business.
So there are some ideas to expand your network. I would love to see some more ideas you have in the comments section. Now get out and talk up your business.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Newsletters Keep your Clients Interested

Newsletters can be a very effective marketing technique for a number of reasons. First they add value to your service. By educating your clients you give them more perceived value of you and your business and turn them into knowledgable zeolots for you and your business.

As a Massage Therapist my newsletter would cover topics such as stress, arthritis and back pain. The articles would explain how massage helps and how they can help themselves. The idea is that I have given my client enough information that they can make informed decisions about their health and they will pass this information on to friends who could use may services.

Benefits of newsletter Marketing
  • educate clients
  • motivate clients to use your product or service more
  • create word of mouth marketing
  • keeps you in clients mind
What should you include in your newsletter?
  • Important dates such as a grand re-opening or workshop you are holding
  • A feature article on a topic related to your business
  • Tips lists
  • Resources such as books or websites that clients can access to learn more about your business.
Additional Tips
  1. The information should be directed towards how your product or service can benefit them.
  2. Avoid a" sales job". Nothing will turn the client off faster.
  3. Give away lots of information they can use down the road. They may consult your newsletter later on as a resource.
  4. Publish your newsletter at least once every 3 months.
  5. It doesn't have to be fancy. Even just a newsletter on your letterhead is sufficient. It is the superior quality of information in your newsletter that will hook them.
  6. Try sending out your newsletters to media outlets that you are working on building relationships with.
  7. Post your newsletters in a blog or create an "Newsletter Archive" section on your website. You could even simply e-mail your newsletter to your clients who would rather receive it this way.
So there you have it. That is the bare-bone basics of newsletter marketing. Now all you have to do is start writing.