Monday, July 9, 2012

Beware of Spelling Out Your Phone Number!

An experience on the way to my dog's vet led me to write this post - she's AOK now, but an accident in the car led to a frantic search on-line for a place that could clean my car ASAP!

That's when I realized we sometimes still live in the past.  A time when you could get your business name or a clever phrase spelled out with what us old telecom geeks called "a vanity number" (think 555-SALE or 8XX-MY-HOME).  Finding the perfect set of words would make us think we were the cat's pajamas.  But don't waste your money - those days are gone!   And here's why:
  • More than ever people are turning to smart phones (think iphone, droid, blackberry).  Although there are shortcut keys around this  - callers want  numbers, not words.
  • Many users are opting to bypass the traditional land line all together in place of mobile phones only and using Internet calling tools like Skype.
  • If we do happened to be at home, who has the time to do the K=5 spelling?  Your customers would much rather dial than play the hunt and peck game.

To help ensure your customers can easily reach you I suggest the following:
  • Prominently display your numerical phone number on your home page as well as the contact page of your website (and if the layout can support it - on every page!).
  • If you still dig/own a vanity number that's cool - just make sure you display all of the numbers below or next to the vanity number so customers have a choice as to which way to dial.
  • Make sure your numbers are visible enough for the small hand-held laptops, notebooks and mobile devices on which they will be seen.  
Your clients in times of panic (or not) will thank you!

Monday, January 11, 2010

HELP! My Ego Is Getting In The Way of Marketing My Business

Welcome to 2010! The New Year always brings hope for new success. But in this economy, hope has to crash with reality. A reality that says now more than ever, proper planning for marketing your business is critical.

Two types of business owners I often encounter are a) those that state they never have the time to work on their marketing efforts and thus feel a sense of guilt or justify that they have bigger priorities to tackle and b) those that state they have “never really had to market their business”.

Both of these folks have a problem – their ego is in the way of properly marketing their business! Let’s take a look at both scenarios:

The “I Just Don’t Have the Time to Work on Marketing” Business Owner:

This business owner is in the business of what they “do” so they focus primarily on the day to day work. Perhaps they try an advertisement here or there, wonder what the social media stuff is all about and may even have a website, but it hasn’t been updated in years. They work hard no doubt, but end up feeling deflated and defeated when they see the competition getting all the attention and a larger piece of the pie.

In this scenario, a distracted and deflated ego is the problem. Somewhere deep down this business owner doesn’t realize the power of what on-going marketing efforts can do for their business. They feel that too much self-promotion isn’t what they are all about, think they need millions of dollars to get the job done, and find hundreds of other things to work on instead of taking the time to work on their marketing efforts.

The truth is that a good marketing plan will keep your name out there 24/7/365. These types of business owners owe it to themselves to TAKE TIME OUT for their business for sharing who they are, what they do and communicating their message to the people who will care about what they do . Just like getting a business loan, a marketing plan is an investment in your company’s current and future success.

The “Well, I’ve Never Had to Market My Business” Business Owner:

This business owner has a bit of an ego. Whatever their selling, they’ve had enough success to let things ride. These folks are often happy to share that everything they have accomplished is due to word of mouth and their sweat-equity.

In this scenario, the inflated and naive ego is the problem. They feel that the status quo, doing it the way they have always done it, is enough to create success. But what is the plan when the word of mouth well dries up, the competition increases or the industry changes? These folks are then almost embarrassed that they have done so little, and they just don’t know where to start.

If you are great at what you do – congratulations! But think of what else you could be doing if you properly planned for the future of what you want your business to be. Whether it’s revenue growth, a new segment, more clients, different products, more free time, additional locations – the list is endless if you focused on letting the world know how great you really are on a consistent and well thought out basis! You will have a stronghold with your customers and prospects and not playing the “what should I do now” game when the market winds changes.

Moving That Ego Right Out of the Way

If you fall into one of these categories, you have to face a few realities. First, realize that your business is absolutely worth marketing. It is a necessity that you take time out of the day-to-day to keep your business connected and visible to your clients and prospects. Second, realize that if you do not invest in marketing your business, your competition will gain the edge and you’ll be scrambling when it’s too late.

The good news is there are things you can do:

•Hire someone “in” - to do some of the less important day to day things so you can focus part of your time on marketing your business. No one knows your business better than you.

•Hire someone “out” - to do the things that are beyond your immediate interest or expertise.

•Find out what your competition and peers are doing and learn from them.

•Check out the free resources on-line to help you get a marketing plan and tactics in place.

•Set a budget and calendar of activities – then back in to how much prep time is necessary to get the work done by the due date.

•Hire a consultant to “kick start” your plan and help you get things in place or tackle part of your on-going marketing efforts.

Here’s to the success of your business 2010 – get your ego out of the way and let a solid marketing plan be your guide! Your business is worth the investment!

Thursday, September 3, 2009


You have faith in what you offer, right? I mean, you provide a valuable service or product to your clients, agreed? So why then when it comes to asking for testimonials or referrals are we so shy and hesitant?

As a marketer, I am always trying to think of how my clients can stay connected with their customers. Even with a one-time purchaser, there are always referrals, testimonials or potential repeat business that could come from this client.

I therefore offer the following to help you kick start your own customer referral plan:

  • Create a check list of what you will do after the sale for each type of customer - this will make all of the steps easier to ensure you do it with each one.
  • Double check the accuracy and maintain a database of your client contact information - e-mail addresses, home phone, cell phone and full mailing address.
  • Always ask for a testimonial when the customer has either recently purchased or finished a project with you. This is the time they are most satisfied with your business.
  • Create a "win win" referral plan - that is - both the referring party and the new prospect both receive something (a gift certificate, discount on next purchase etc.). The goal is to make both parties feel good about what's-in-it-for-them. This also makes some referring parties more comfortable providing referrals and sharing info about your company.
  • Ask your customers to share thoughts about your business on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and review websites. Anything that continues to get the word out about your company in a positive light.
  • Keep in contact with current and past customers by using e-newsletters. This is a great way to stay in the mind of the client and also share the details of your referral program.

Remember that "warm leads" and clients that come from trusted sources tend to already have more confidence in your business. Now is the time to ensure your marketing plan has a line item for a managed customer referral program! If you need help pulling this together, please feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I'm Not Ready for Kindergarten

With both of my daughters headed for full-time school this year, I have to mention the pit that has been growing in my stomach. This is what I've been waiting for 5 years! Think of all of the free time I'll have. I can focus more on my business and get all the things done on my personal "to do" list that I keep saying I don't have time to do because I still have a "little one" at home. It's gonna be GREAT! Hooray I made it! YEAH ME!

Sigh....then reality rears its ugly head. My "baby" is not with me not even 1 day a week. I feel sick to think I won't have her (or her older sister for that matter) with me until after 3:00 or when the weekend arrives. Things are changing - SOMEONE IS MOVING MY CHEESE! Wow - and here I thought I'd be thrilled!?

So, how does this milestone in my life get twisted into a blog post about marketing? I find that I need to think about making a fresh start. I'm committing to use this time to look at everything in my life differently - the way I take care of myself, the way I manage my business and the way I manage my family time. Shifting directions can be a challenge - but I am up for it!

Is your business just waiting for the next milestone? Perhaps a fresh perspective such as committing to start your social networking efforts, updating your website or becoming more visible and active in your community might just be what you need to get business back on track and make strides into the land of new opportunity. Set yourself your own "first day of school" to implement some new marketing efforts.

I may not feel ready for Kindergarten - but like many things in life, it's coming regardless of what I think of it. So, I'll take this challenge, no, "opportunity", to start to plan differently and embrace this new milestone.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Doing PR Yourself

I listened to a fabulous blog talk radio call today with Lara Galloway, The Mom Biz Coach, and her guest Elena Verlee of PR in Your Pajamas (check out to hear it again). Elena did a great job of sharing how the small business can manage their own PR efforts. I'd like to add a few more pieces of information regarding who to target with your PR efforts. As you never know exactly WHEN/WHERE a reporter or interested party will get their information:
  • Identify potential editors and reporters of your local publications, TV and Radio. Even if your business is national in scope, local media loves to do feel good stories on successful local companies.
  • If your business is local in nature, be sure to include chambers of commerce, local calendar websites, groups of potential interest, etc. There is no bad place to send the release! PR is NOT just for reporters - the goal is to tell as many people as possible about your business, event, service or new product.
  • Be sure to add the release to your website. It adds timely content (good for SEO) and shows anyone visiting your site what you are sharing with the world, and the exciting things you are doing.
  • Take advantage of your social media connections. After posting the release to your website, create a link on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Linked in to drive others to link to the release that's already on your site - and poof! - the reader is now at your website learning more about your company.
  • Don't be afraid to use your personal and professional connections to share your news. I love to share information on companies I patronize or are owned by friends. It's a great "pay it forward" action and makes me feel good for supporting businesses that I want to see flourish.

You can create great continuity from a press release by having a plan of who to share the information with, where you will post the information, and how you will not only "push" the information to others, but "pull" others to your website.

Need assistance figuring out what is PR-worthy, what to say in your press release, who to send the press release to and/or how to follow through? Feel free to contact me to help you create a plan for using this great tool while you focus on the core of your business.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Art of Marketing YOURSELF for that Next Job

As a marketing consultant, I work hard to provide my clients with a "best face forward" business profile. I had a recent experience that made me think of how it is not only important to present your business in the right light, but also how individuals could do the same in this tough job market.

Case and point - client needed a part-time a sales and marketing administrator. I created a very detailed and specific job description and passed it on to a select crowd, so that we would not be bombarded by the masses for a part-time position. Since I was the lucky individual who filtered the responses, I realized too late that it has been shared with way too many non-ideal candidates. But I managed through it. However, after this little experience, I feel I could teach a class on marketing yourself to get the job you want. Marketing yourself is much like marketing your business - you have to show the potential employer that you are the ideal choice!

  • Stop telling the company what YOU want. I had a lot of "I am trying to get out of automotive" or "I need this part-time job to make ends meet while I focus on my other business over here". Do you really think THAT kind of angle is going to get you the job?

  • Focus on what you can do for that company. An employer is looking for a resource who is going to be experienced, dedicated and have potential. Make sure you show that link. Don't waste their or your time if it's not even close.

  • Be clear about how the job fits into your background. A generic statement about how you want to be helpful and you are a people person doesn't even whisper "hire me" - it screams "I don't really know what I want or how I can contribute". Create a confident and assertive opening to your letter and resume.

  • Customize your resume for the position. I saw so many "may-bes" but then put them in the "no thank you"pile because I had to connect the dots of how I could take their skills and use them for our position. Your resume should sing in harmony with the job description in both the written words and your work experiences - even if it's a stretch - make the connection!

  • List your technical skills. It may seem obvious that everyone knows the MS-Office Suite of products (Word, Excel etc.) but never assume. The more detailed about every technical aspect of abilities you can add to the mix, the better.

After a painful process, we found a fabulous candidate with the right back ground - because her resume said so first, she then had a confident phone interview with good examples of her work, so that by the time we met her we were already hooked.

If this post helps just one person tailor their "personal marketing message" to get the job they seek, I am a happy marketeer!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

E-Newsletters -Flexible, Current and Shareable

Communicating with customers has always been an important part of a good marketing mix. In the past, direct mail (post cards, letters, etc.) was an expensive and sometimes "hit or miss" effort. E-communications involves sending communications to your customers via their e-mail address. You can reach all of your customers quickly and easily (or send different messages to different segments of your customers), receive statistics on who is reading your information, and have your clients share your communications with other potential customers. With the cost savings and "go green" movement, you'll find that you are spending less on paper and postage, and more on quality and frequency. So how do you get started?

  • Start by collecting email addresses ASAP. Whether it's by phone, when signing a receipt, browsing the store, prospecting or collecting other specific contact information - always ask for an e-mail address. It's also a good idea to have a sign-up box on your website.
  • Decide what items you would like to include in your e-newsletter. Do you have frequent sales? An upcoming event? Selling a new product? Did you win an award? Do you provide expertise on a certain subject? All of these are great ideas for inclusion in an e-newsletter communication.
  • Decide upon frequency. How often do you want to reach your customers? How often do you think they want to hear from you? I go back the good old lesson of planning ahead. How often do you want to touch your customer and even more importantly how much time do you have to prepare your content? Layout a calendar by month adding in which times are most important that you to communicate with your customers.
  • Find an e-mail service. If you Google e-newsletters, you'll see many different applications and they are all very similar. These companies offer good template based tools for you to enter in your information, graphics and company specific messaging.

Just like any "first", your first e-mail is a big deal! I have helped clients get their first communications off the ground and taught them how to "take it from there". I also have clients that I work on their communications consistently so they have time to focus on their business.

I guarantee that your competitors have moved or are moving in this direction - so now is the time to get your e-communications going!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Partnering with Non-Profits Can Be Good for Your Business

With the current state of the economy, many businesses are challenged to do more with less. But if you think that stinks, try being a non-profit that relies on the financial contributions of donors - many wells have dried up. Yet, working together may be exactly what a non-profit and your business needs for a little feel-good social responsibility.

First, choose a non-profit company that is close to your heart or your business. Find something that complements your interests (animals, children, family matters, etc.) or connects with your business (a construction company helping Habitat for Humanity). Find something you can feel good about partnering with for a long time and that has established roots in your community.

Second, decide how you can help. Call the agency and explain that you want to be a good corporate citizen. Do have a storefront where you host a fundraiser? Can you volunteer some of your inventory? Does your staff have certain talents or gifts to share? Find out what the organization might need and brainstorm together on how you can help.

Third, share the good news. Include what your doing on your website, share a press release with the media, and use tools like Facebook, Twitter and newsletters. Do not be shy on how you are making a difference in the world. Buyers often seek like-minded companies (thus the craze of everyone going green!)

Helping a non-profit can be win-win. They get the help they desperately need and their message is shared through your network of friends, family, customers and partners. And in kind, your business gets some good PR and you can feel great about doing the right thing!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I don't have time for Twitter!

Like most business owners - I'M BUSY! Busy helping my clients, busy taking care of my family, just busy busy busy! I hear this from everyone - so I know I am not alone. Yet, those clients and friends with desires to grow their business are missing out on a free (OK, time is like money) no money down opportunity to connect with potential clients, customers, referral sources, experts in their field, etc. - the possibilities are endless. And I think that's exactly what people are afraid of - it's just too intimidating and not as specific as what they are used to doing with a brochure, mailing or handshake. Perhaps they think they are "above" the need to start grass-roots or afraid they will have to make a huge time commitment. Think of how long it takes to go to a no-guarantee-that-it's-going-to-generate-leads-expo or networking event. What if you could exchange your business card electronically, to thousands of potential __(insert your desired individual or audience here) __?

Take just a few minutes a day (set a timer if you need to) to get started on ONE social networking effort - Twitter, Facebook, or a Blog. Once you start you'll see that the power of connecting with like minds (or not so like minds) makes good business sense. If you need help kick starting your efforts, there are many sources on the web or I can help you get started. But remember, this should be just one part of your overall marketing plan :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Why Marketing Plans Don't Sell

Do you have a marketing plan? Does anyone even know what a marketing plan is? It's not nearly as sexy as exclaiming "Check out my Facebook Page!" and "Follow me on Twitter!" So, now what's the PLAN with that Facebook page and Twitter handle?

When I tell people that marketing plans are what I start with, I often feel like the CPA of the marketing world - asking clients to dot their "i"s and cross their "t"s. But creating a marketing plan leads you to ask yourself - who am I selling to, how am I going to reach them, how much money do I have to spend and when do I expect to execute my grand plans to reach these people? Sounds much more exciting to create that Facebook page, right?

So if we work together - we can start with something glamorous - but I'll ask you 50 questions about how that fits into your bigger picture. I love all the new e-techniques - and use and recommend them, but don't get lost in the madness. Make sure you have a calendar of prioritized marketing activities, a budget, and a plan for making sure you get it all done!