Tag Archives: Marketing Strategy

10 Ways To Publicize Your Small Business

10 Ways To Publicize Your Small Business

 Whether you run Dow Chemical or the Dairy Queen there is no substitute for positive publicity. Most successful small business owners realized early that marketing was a very important if not the most important part of staying in business. But where to start? Here are a few pointers for getting covered. 10 Ways To Publicize Your Small Business

There are plenty of ways to get newspaper, radio, and television publicity for the small business owner willing to invest in the activity on a consistent basis.
10 Ways To Publicize Your Small Business. There are plenty of ways to get newspaper, radio, and television publicity for the small business owner willing to invest in the activity on a consistent basis.
  1. Do something newsworthy. Media coverage in traditional outlets (not trade journals or business magazines) will not occur without some kind of event, happening, release or introduction. Remember that news worthy events almost always occur in real time and are finite. News is not open ended.
  2. What are some newsworthy small business happenings? A grand opening is the perfect occasion to get news coverage. While cutting a ribbon with a big pair of scissors might seem silly, it is a good photo opportunity and is newsworthy.
  3. Expansions, new products, new menu items, new services, new or expanded contracts are all newsworthy. 10 Ways To Publicize Your Small Business
  4. Sponsorships of local sporting teams, high school athletics, charity fundraisers are also considered newsworthy. Go to your county’s fair and bid on something and win it. Pose for a photo with the young person who raised the calf, chicken, pig or goat. Send the photo to the local newspaper. Boom, publicity.
  5. Monitor the news and see where what you do might fit with a reporter or news outlet. For example, if you repair computers or other high tech equipment, be ready to give advise on preventing a cyber breach at home or at work the next time hackers from Wikileaks release something or a major business or government entity is hacked. It’s only a matter of time before this happens. Own a drug store? Do a release on over the counter flu remedies. Travel agents can write about the best times to fly at the start of summer vacation or how to negotiate TSA during heavy travel times like Thanksgiving, Christmas, July 4, etc.
  6. Business professionals like accountants can do year-end publicity on how to prepare for tax season. Lawyers can schedule interviews when new laws come into effect. Public bathroom access for transgender people is one example of the law where professional advise would have been useful. The same is true for gun laws, licenses to carry concealed weapons and on and on. 10 Ways To Publicize Your Small Business

More Ways To Keep Publicity Going 10 Ways To Publicize Your Small Business

Publicity is not like a tattoo or statue where you do it once and forget about it. Business promotion via local publicity is a process and like all processes has to be attended. So here are a few more tips!

  1. Find out who covers business in your community and get acquainted. Reporters and editors receive dozens if not hundreds of releases and pitch calls every day. Yours is more likely to get read if the reporter/editor knows who you are.
  2. Write press materials regularly and send them out routinely. I used to have a rule that I would send out a release at least once a month. This was at a very large and already well known company. For those who are not already those things, it will take more work and more releases. For the new business clients I work for I recommend at least one per week if possible.
  3. Don’t forget trade journals. Local business and media will often cover the fact that a local person wrote for a trade journal.
  4. Invent your own media. Hosting your own podcast or curating news from your field of interest and posting it on line are just a couple of options for small business owners that were not available even five years ago.

Harold Nicoll, APR is the owner of Media Public Relations and can be found at www.media-public-relations.com.

 

9 Steps To Successfully Market Your Self Published Book

Use these 9 steps to promote your book, sell more copies and land a publisher.
Use these 9 steps to promote your book, sell more copies and land a publisher.

9 Steps To Successfully Market Your Self Published Book. Lots of people write and self-publish their own books. In the age of electronic publishing, nobody even needs paper never mind ink anymore. But the challenges for authors remains the same and that is this; how to get people be aware of and eventually read their books. Of course there are no guarantees but these 9 steps will certainly not hurt.

  1. Build awareness. You need to build recognition for yourself and your book(s). Think of this as your brand. The best place to start is locally. If you can start to garner recognition in your own backyard you have a chance of garnering some more nationally. Join a local book club and offer to share readings from your work. The same approach can be used with libraries by offering to give a talk about the book. You will not get paid but you can start to build a following.
  2.  Write a blog. Writers need to write and this is a way to share your insights with an audience. Blogging platforms are easy to come by and not expensive. The one you are reading is a good example.
  3.  If you do not have a twitter account and Facebook page devoted to your writing then start both. The key to success with social media and blogs is to contribute to them regularly.
  4. Make friends with local booksellers. I know the book store is becoming a thing of the past but given where you live there are bound to be some.Once they know you, see if you can do signings, or bring the talk you gave the library and the book club and give it again at the book store.
  5. Find a charity (like a local animal shelter) and arrange a book sale with 100% of the proceeds donated to the charity. It’s another way to start building that recognition as not just a good writer but a socially responsible one too.
  6. Contact the local schools and see if you can base a writing workshop for teachers with the book as the center piece. Schools are strapped for resources and the fresh insight a published author can deliver will be worthwhile and appreciated.
  7. Submit your work to publishers. I do not have to tell you that self-published writers have the most difficult time getting any traction. But to be taken seriously you will have to eventually get published. Yes, you will be turned down a bunch of times. But you only need one ‘yes’.
  8. For signings, workshops, charity events etc. write and send press releases to the local media. Be sure to include a photo of yourself and the book cover along with how to contact you for comment.
  9. Take the publicity you gain from number 8 and post it to your web site. Publicity from a third party will boost your credibility in the eyes of potential customers and publishers.

For anyone who acts on all nine of these or even a few, let me hear from you and how you did.

Video For In Store Marketing Intelligence

In store video can provide a lot of intelligence.
In store video can provide a lot of intelligence.

Today’s retailers operate in global economy that affords little room for error.  Retailers must combat harsh challenges that include consolidation within the industry, price competition, and increasingly low profit margins.  As such, it is mission-critical for forward-thinking retail organizations to adopt technologies that help capture and analyze store activity patterns to increase conversion rates, improve operational efficiency and maximize customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Traditionally, retailers gained insight on customer shopping behaviors through loyalty cards and overall trends in POS transactions even tracking inventory. Although this information did provide insight about limited shopper demographics (cards) and buying habits, it did not provide much insight into the customer’s in-store behavior.

Understanding where customers spend most of their time in the store, what time of day they shop, how long they wait in lines and where they dwell (aisles within the store, promotion displays, service counters, etc.) can increase a retailer’s success.  Leveraging a video business intelligence solution helps retailers dramatically reduce their reliance on softer types of data, replacing it with real-world information. Using this data appropriately will help increase sales, improve the customer experience, and add to the benefits of shopping with you; people find what they want there.

Store Performance Management

Leveraging a business intelligence platform can help retailers make informed decisions with accurate people counts. In combination with POS data, in-store department managers, store managers, regional managers, and corporate management can use reliable metrics to benchmark store performance and identify trends early enough to capitalize on them. Retail organizations can also use shopper conversion rates to help compensate and incentivize their sales staff, hence cultivating a customer-centric culture.

Optimize Workforce

Without sufficient staff, retailers face dissatisfied customers and lost sales. At the same time, overstaffing increases operational costs. By capturing the full range of shopper traffic monitoring and customer behavior patterns, retailers can make better operational decisions for sales, marketing, staffing and scheduling. These robust applications can include analytics that analyze traffic flows and shopper movement, measure and predict queue lengths and wait times, monitor zone activity, and provide real-time reporting to ultimately help optimize workforce.

Improve Marketing and Merchandising Effectiveness

Retailers can use video business intelligence to measure the success rate of marketing and advertising promotions. You can use these insights to improve store layout, product placement and promotional displays with actual customer behavior; put the merchandise where the customers are and improve the bottom-line.

Designing Optimal Store Layouts

With a comprehensive data set around shopper traffic, directional analysis, in-store movement patterns, hot spots and dwell times, retailers are able to improve store layout and overall design. If a certain department is rarely visited, the retailers can modify the store layout in order to help drive shoppers to the area where they would not have otherwise visited. Retailers can also alter in-store orientation systems in order to make it easier for shoppers to find the department or the products they are looking for.

For piloting new promotions, store designs or additional product categories, retailers are utilizing video business intelligence data. By reviewing people count, in-store traffic patterns and dwell times around specific areas and products, retailers can take this knowledge and modify their promotion, design or product placement accordingly.

 

How To Compete With Pizza Hut, Papa Johns and the Other Big Chains

Occasionally I like to share a “recipe” for how to promote a certain type of business. Since I really love pizza and like to help locally owned businesses I decided to write about a way to compete with nationally owned pizza chains.

The challenge for a small business owner competing with the big, national chains is that they (the chains) have a tremendous advantage in terms of resources. And by resources I mean money. It will be difficult to do more advertising or compete with Papa John’s in terms of name recognition because they advertise all the time and have been for some time. Papa John’s can negotiate advertising deals with the nationally owned TV, radio and newspaper outlets that will result in more frequent ads in front of prospective customers. Along with that of course are sponsorships and other affiliations for the company they have because of money. It will be just about impossible to compete with Pizza Hut or Dominoes on price because they can purchase ingredients in larger quantities, negotiate contracts on a national level and beat the best price any independent can offer. So what do you do?

Pizza is more about spending time with family and friends and not delivery time or ingredients.
Pizza is more about spending time with family and friends and not delivery time or ingredients.

For the independent pizza restaurant owner to compete he/she will have to find another way to be competitive. My recommendation is that you try to connect with customers and prospective customers emotionally. Why? Because people do not typically make decisions about what to buy or eat based on rational decision-making. Instead, they make emotional decisions, and thank goodness for that! Were it not for the power of emotion in purchasing pizza or anything else, the world would be a giant, vanilla/beige/one size fits all place to exist. The power to connect emotionally is the secret weapon of the successful small business owner. Guilt counts as an emotion. Ego does too. No one would choose to buy a Lexus automobile based on any kind of rational decision-making. And rationalizing is not the same thing, but I digress.

So here is the copy for the pizza restaurant:

‘Pizza is not about fast delivery or ingredients. It’s not trends in food, desserts or soda. Pizza is about quality time spent with family and friends. Whether at home on a Friday night, after the game, or because the dinner that was planned burned, pizza from (YOUR NAME HERE) will make any time better for everyone.” You could use this in an e-mail promotion, newspaper ad, or traditional piece of direct mail. So go now and sell pizza!

 

9 Surprise PR Tactics That Will Make You Irresistible to Reporters

9 Surprise PR Tactics.

This article “9 Surprise PR Tactics That Will Make You Irresistible to Reporters” was published by PRNews and written by Steve Goldstein on April 16, 2015.  Enjoy!

Attend any panel discussion featuring PR pros and journalists, and within five minutes of its commencement you’ll hear one of the journalists say, “I delete email pitches in batches of 20 with hardly a glance at the subject lines.”

Then comes the inevitable follow-up question from the audience: “So what would it take for you to open my email?”

And the answer: “Know my beat, read my articles, give me real news I can use.”

Silently, the PR pros in attendance grumble in unison: “But if you’re deleting everything without looking, then what difference would that make?”

Tania Luna, co-author with LeeAnn Renninger of the new book Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected, would encourage those silent grumblers to think beyond the

Follow these directions to be a more sought for interviewee.
Follow these directions to be a more sought for interviewee.

journalist/PR pro dynamic and harness the elemental power of surprise to cut through the noise and make a connection.

“One of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of working in PR is building relationships with reporters,” says Luna, who will be the keynote presenter on day two of PR News’ Digital PR Conference, which will be held June 1-3 in Miami. “Luckily, things get a lot easier when you have the science of surprise on your side. When you pleasantly surprise people they think of you more often and are more interested in what you have to say.”

Here are nine tips for bonding with reporters from co-authors Luna and Renninger:

1. Jump over the expectation bar: Our brains are delighted when someone exceeds our expectations, disappointed when someone falls below the bar and unmoved when someone meets our expectations. Take the time to learn what each of your contacts expects (what topics do they prefer? what style? what format?) and find ways to exceed expectations at every point of contact (e.g., offer all necessary links before they have to ask; use bullet points so your pitch is easy to digest).

2. Under-promise, over-deliver: Here is a shortcut to exceeding expectations from author Tom Peters. Set expectations just an inch lower than you plan to deliver, then over-deliver every once in a while (e.g., promise you’ll respond in 48 hours, then reply in just two). Pleasant surprises release dopamine in the brain, a neurochemical associated with excitement and interest.

3. Do a scriptease: So many of our interactions feel scripted and formal. Leave your script aside and connect with reporters the way you would with friends (respectful but playful and authentic). Authenticity builds trust but also triggers people’s interest.

4. Give just because: Be helpful or encouraging for no particular reason (even when you aren’t trying to place a story). Research shows that we think about random acts of kindness longer than we contemplate explained kind behavior (and random kindness makes us happier).

5. Bury a cookie: Find ways to tuck small delights into your interactions. Can you sneak a joke into your conversation? A genuine compliment? A funny GIF into your email? In a study, researchers found that even a handwritten Post-it Note can be personal and unexpected enough to double response rates to a survey.

6. Build knowledge gaps: Spark curiosity by pitching your stories in a way that shows readers you know something they don’t. Our fascination with mystery is the reason listicles work so well. (Just compare these two titles and see which one your brain likes more: “These 8 Subject Line Tweaks Will Get Everyone to Open Your Emails” vs. “How to Get People to Open Your Emails.”)

7. Tell stories: Most of us are familiar with the power of story, but it helps to know why stories work as well as they do to remind us that we have to weave stories into our pitches. Because stories have mystery at their core (we want to know what will happen next), they trigger the P3 brain wave—this cognitive shift grabs our cognitive resources and forces us to pay attention.

8. Design experiences: Devise opportunities for your contacts to have an emotional, multi-sensory experience with your company or story (hint: the more senses you engage, the more memorable the experience will be).

9. Harness fortune cookie psychology: A handwritten thank-you note will trigger a burst of dopamine in the recipient, but the same card with the same message sent several times will soon fall flat. Take a tip from the fortune cookie and switch up how, when and why you reach out to say thank-you or offer a tip. In short: Exceed expectations, be genuine, be mysterious and delight often.

Tania Luna will be the keynote presenter on June 2 at PR News’ Digital PR Conference in Miami.

Follow Tania Luna: @Surprisology

Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI

http://www.prnewsonline.com/water-cooler/2015/04/16/9-surprise-pr-tactics-that-will-make-you-irresistible-to-reporters/#.VUaRHwxPfkc.google_plusone_share

Landing Pages Help Convert Prospects

Landing Pages Help Convert Prospects. 85639a_92fb3a3f32074e52a022bbed5df76e32

Landing pages.
Landing pages are a way for prospects to find and contact you, instead of the other way around.

This topic is a little involved, so please be patient. All of my readers are not seasoned marketers or public relations people. Many are just starting out and this, like most of my blog posts are written with them in mind.

The reason for a business of any type or size to be active on the web is to recruit more customers. If you run a political campaign, more donors and ultimately voters are the goal. For a non-profit charity, you want to recruit more contributors. Regardless of the enterprise, you need customers.

Awareness or Action

I get amused at marketers and promoters who say the goal of their campaign is to “raise awareness”. Let’s say that I am the chief marketer for the local Burger King franchise and my goal is to raise awareness of my restaurant. People driving past the Burger King and having seen my ads will be aware of the fact that we sell hamburgers.

By the measure of my stated goal, I’ve succeeded. But unless those same passersby come in and buy something, my employees and me will be in search of a new situation because we failed to ask for the order, literally. Awareness of our product is not enough, someone will have to take action, come inside and buy something. Awareness is only part of the challenge for marketers, getting someone to take action is the next and most important and that is where the “landing page” comes in. A landing page requires the one who lands to do something.

The Landing Page Simply Defined

Simply stated, a landing page is a web page that stands alone as it is made for a single purpose. A landing page is the first step for self-qualification of new customers as the person who comes to the landing page, wants to learn more about how you can help them accomplish their goals. For you, that purpose is to expand your mailing list and further introduce yourself and your capabilities to a prospect. You can also connect with them later with more promotional opportunities. For the moment, just collect some very basic information from them. Ask for a name and e-mail address. In exchange, the visitor will receive a free brochure, white paper, coupon, e-book or something else of value. For

There are several different types of landing pages. My personal favorite are the ones like the ones described above, that allow the visitor who lands there the opportunity to download a brochure, position paper, newsletter or some other data at no charge. E-books are also good. But like I said, the only thing to ask for in exchange is the name and e-mail address of the person who wants to download, possibly the company name but no more. The more personal data required, the more likely your prospect is to bail. So ask for the minimum. In exchange, the prospect receives something free, but also valuable.

What To Offer

You now have something of value, a lead. Not only a lead, but one where the individual freely self-nominated himself. Better still, you attract a certain type of prospective customer based on what you offer. To stay with our Burger King example, you could offer a percent off coupon, or buy one get one free, introduce a new type of burger, remind prospects that Chicken Fries are back, etc.

The downloaded item in this instance compels the prospect to go inside the restaurant and buy something. So more than aware, he/she is now a customer. You can use this concept for any type of business. If you are a hair stylist, offer free coloring, if you own a driving range, offer a free bucket of balls. If you are in the chemical manufacturing industry, offer a sample of your new product or free consultation. The landing page is your catalyst for a longer conversation with a prospective customer.

Of course not all landing pages were created equal. And that leads (no pun intended) to the next thing for you to learn, testing.

Test Your Landing Pages

Use two different pages to see which one draws the best results. Known as A/B testing, the value proposition and free download typically remains the same. The layout and design of the landing page(s) is what differs. Try out different colors, photos, headlines, amount of text, and whatever else you can think of to test. I know there is a temptation to always use the color schemes and design that you like. That is not wrong all by itself, but remember that you are not a prospect. Be as dispassionate as you are able to be. The goal is to attract new prospects, not be “right”. Here is an example or two.

Not The Power Of Rational Decision Making

I quoted a job for redoing a series of brochures and signage for a company. The owner really liked purple and so everything was purple. The type and print, was all done in purple. The frames around photos were purple and he used gradients of, you guessed it, purple, on his brochures and other materials. It was like a purple nightmare.

I suggested he make his materials more reader friendly by using black type on white backgrounds and reserve purple as a highlight and way to add contrast. I further suggested A/B testing, just to make sure that we were on the right track and he would see that the more professionally designed materials would lead to more customers over the power of all that purple. After all, the numbers never lie. Just follow the data and he would of course make a rational choice, right? Not right. My suggestions were ignored and I did not get the job. I feel badly for the poor guy though, somewhere sobbing into a big purple pillow, on the road to ruin. Here is another example.

I was working in a very challenging place where one of the marketing staff members had worked there for 16 years. Let’s call her “Stacie”. She had no marketing education or experience other than what she had always done at this place and was left to pretty much whatever she wanted. Getting a new boss (me) was not welcomed. Neither was the idea of doing anything differently.

I thought that a way to persuade her to a different point of view was to test her ideas against some others. Stacie would then see that there was a different and even better way to do things and rationally decide to change. You can guess the end. Instead of embracing the better way of doing things, all she did was get mad and cling to her ideas with more fervor. Don’t be like Stacie or purple man. Be open to new ideas and test them to see if in addition to being different they might also be better.

Five Ideas: Get Paid Writing Blogs/Podcasts

Podcasts create another opportunity to reach the audience and inform them about your expertise.
Five Ideas: Get Paid Writing Blogs/Podcasts. Podcasts create another opportunity to reach the audience and inform them about your expertise.

Five Ideas: Get Paid Writing Blogs/Podcasts. At some point whether blogging, podcasting, or posting videos on You Tube you will want to get paid. Sure there are people who will do these things simply for the love of it and we love them for being so generous. But most folks can ill-afford to make a commitment like this. The rest of us need to get paid.

Will you start your blog or podcast and have people lined up to sponsor you? No. If you work diligently for 6 months to a year, posting new, original material 5 days a week do you have a chance? Yes. Or maybe.

Advertisers want the same thing you do, page views or downloads from people who are involved with you. You could have guessed that, but what else? What about conversations about you on your social media pages? Could a sponsor benefit from being a topic of a post on your Face Book page? Assuming that the comments were positive, sure. But in any event, you have to bring the numbers.

Whether Twitter followers or downloads, advertisers want entrée to your audience. If your audience numbers in the dozens it is unlikely to attract a sponsor. So spend your time building an audience. The best way to do that is to be consistent with original content that is new or at least a new twist on something.

Traffic And How Much Is Enough?

So how do you know that you have “enough” of an audience to merit ads? Go to one of several ranking systems. The best ones are Google Page Rank (http://google.about.com/od/searchengineoptimization/a/pagerankexplain.htm) and Alexa (http://www.alexa.com).

Of course, raw numbers do not always tell the whole story. If you work in a niche that is very specialized you are not going to have millions of followers. My page on called www.collectorsshow.net attracts a lot of views from people who collect napkins. That is because I did a show earlier this year about that topic and they come to the site to listen to and read about napkin collecting. This fits that “small niche” category. While the number of these people ranks in the hundreds, most of them visited my site. Which brings me to the stat or measure that matters the most and that is engagement.

Engagement is the Best stat for a Blog or Podcast Sponsor

The most important stat to a potential podcast or blog sponsor is your influence. How engaged is your audience? Do they take action on your recommendations? This matters more to an advertiser than impression numbers, because they’ll not renew an advertising contract, even to a big audience, if the audience isn’t taking action (converting). The more likely your audience is to take action, the more valuable they are to a sponsor.

I was listening to Michael Berry on KTRH-AM in Houston. He mentioned that he liked a hat from a feed store called A & P Feed and talked about it on the air. Later in the broadcast, and probably not coincidentally, he received an e-mail from the owner who thanked him for the mention and told him about a big order he received as a result. If the people you attract are more followers than casual listeners, you can attract advertisers.

A good way to measure this for a podcast is by recommending relevant free or premium resources (maybe even an affiliate) with a trackable link, like from Pretty Link Pro or Better Links Pro. An affiliate will allow you to track both how many people visited through your link and—more importantly—how many people purchased.

Recruiting Advertisers

So assuming you have the numbers to attract advertisers, here are some suggestions to actually attract them.

  1. Figure out ways to get potential advertisers involved. Of course there are banner ads and payment for click-throughs. But what about polls? A sponsored poll or quiz will engage the sponsor and the people who participate. The results of the poll create a posting opportunity and even a news release possibility. You can offer all of these as a package to a potential advertiser as a value added benefit of working with you.
  2. Give something away. A giveaway of a sponsors’ product will also involve the audience and give you the chance to talk/write about the product in your blog or podcast. Once you determine the winner, interview him/her about the product and how cool it was to win. Beyond the obvious, you also just provided your potential sponsor with a testimonial. If you gave something away from them once a week you deliver 52 testimonials. For merchants of any type, there are few things better than unscripted praise from an end-user.
  3. Guest posts and interviews. Inviting the potential sponsor to be on the program or blog is a good idea because it will show them how professional you are and what is possible through further, albeit paid, involvement.
  4. Adsense and Amazon Affiliate programs. These two companies specialize in blog advertising and are 2 of the leaders. But there are others and you will want to research the ones that are the best fit for you.
  5. Podcast networks such as Mevio, Podtrac, and Wizzard Media welcome any podcaster that has an audience, because that means they can sell advertising against it. The networks collect shows, categorize them, and sell advertising on a CPM (cost per thousand) or CPA (cost per action) basis. Adam Curry, former MTV VJ, podcasting pioneer, and President of Mevio (interview), is looking for podcast producers that know their audience and can motivate them. Using either their show programming or social media, podcast producers promote show-specific coupon codes for their sponsors. Every time one is used, the podcaster gets paid. Of their network of 15,000 podcasters, Curry said he has three podcasters that will make between $500,000 to $1,000,000 this year.

Let me say, that this is not easy. It is anything but easy. As I have written before, you need to approach this like a job, you show up every day and post. You have to commit. I spend 2-3 hours a day researching and writing each one of the se posts. So on top of a 40-hour work week and everything else that is involved, add another 2 days to the week. Without a commitment, you have no chance. Even with a solid commitment, it will be incredibly challenging. I wish you well in your pursuit.

Ten Reasons/Ways Using The Web For Business Promotion

Ten Reasons/Ways Using The Web For Business Promotion. Content Marketing and Public Relations are complimentary parts of your overall marketing efforts.
Content Marketing and Public Relations are complimentary parts of your overall marketing efforts.

Ten Reasons/Ways Using The Web For Business Promotion. I recently had a conversation with a local merchant who did not believe that his business would benefit from a web site. He did not have one and had no plans to start. According to him, his was a local concern and “everyone knows about us.” He was not interested in selling to people outside of his local area. He did not have the skills to set up a web site, and was not keen to hire anyone to do it for him. Granted, he did have an established trade and an excellent location. He also had a good reputation and made a good living. Of course it was his choice to have a web site or not, and who am I to insist that he get one?

What might I say to him that would be helpful?

  1. Would you like to have more money? There is only one right answer. Of course you would. And if you have a good bit of money already, couldn’t you use more?
  2. Everyone does not know you. And even if at some point “everyone” had passed by or even went inside the building, they need reminding about who you are and what you do and how “everyone” could benefit from doing business with you. Smart promoters promote all the time. The reason I can sing the “Classic Chevrolet” radio jingle is because I hear it all the time. Frequency of exposure to your business, cause or candidacy is a key to success. There was a kind of smugness associated with the remark about how “everyone” knew him that put me off. It reminded me of my time in the specialty chemical manufacturing business when I heard the same thing from a product manager. He did not see any benefit to running advertisements in trade magazines and insisted that “everyone knows who we are”. After the first ad ran and there were over 1,100 inquiries, the discussion about how everyone knew us ceased.
  3. The web is a reference tool. In the old days, people went to the Yellow Pages or the local newspaper to do research on local products and services. Now, they go to Google. A local merchant or professional can go to Google Maps, click the link that says, “put your business on Google Maps” and be a couple of clicks away from literally putting your business on the map. Yahoo and Bing also have similar capability. Don’t ignore them. Now that you have established a web presence, you can do a few other things.
  4. Claim credit for the good you do. Plenty of local merchants perform acts of charity. They do not do it for reputation building or credit, but simply because they are generous people who want to give back. Commendable! But there is nothing wrong with asking the local charity, which mentioned you on their web site, and asking for a link back to your site. It does not cost anything. And if you feel embarrassed about taking credit, get over it. Your competitors are doing it and they are taking money away from you and your family and your employees. It’s marketing for goodness sakes.
  5. Ask for reviews. You have regular customers who come inside and buy things all the time. Ask them to go on line and write a review. This is much like “word of mouth” but the reach goes far beyond the circle of acquaintance your customer has.
  6. List your memberships. If you are a member of the local chamber of commerce, say so and list a link back to their web page. And while you are at it, make sure they have a link to your new web site on their page!
  7. Put your web address on your business card. Some people might think this goes without saying. Does it? Can I see your card? Just checking.
  8. Start a social network for your business. What is it about local merchants who are reluctant to post on Twitter or have a Face Book page for a business? I marvel at the reticence of so many people to tell others about what they do, never mind how much their neighbors will benefit. I patronize locally owned businesses because these folks are my neighbors. I often pay more because I prefer to support local merchants. I’ve got nothing against national chains, but there is something about the small businessman or woman that makes this country great. Give others like me the chance to hand over our money by promoting yourself via social media.
  9. Share your expertise. Another reason to spend time with local business owners is their expertise. I knew a couple of guys who owned a small fishing equipment shop. They were avid anglers and knew everything there was to know about fishing inside and out. People who had bought their equipment somewhere else would come to them for advise. Eventually, they went out of business. Not because of a lack of know how, but because they did not promote their know-how as part of their unique abilities. The web is the place to do this.
  10. Write and post a short story about how you helped someone. You do not have to name anyone by name, just describe the circumstances and how you were able to lend assistance. Write and post enough of these and pretty soon you have a blog.

So if you are a local merchant in a traditional “brick and mortar” building don’t dismiss the web as a place to be seen. Like I said earlier, your competitors are all on line and they are taking money away from you and your children.

 

Six Steps For Expert Blog Interviews

Better blogs can be had in six steps. Easy!
Better blogs can be had in six steps. Easy!

Six Steps For Expert Blog Interviews.  Nothing will add to your credibility and blog readership like interviewing someone in your field who is already a recognized expert. It’s the opposite of guilt by association, but I don’t know what or even if there is a saying for that. Maybe “smart by association” or “expert in proximity” are those labels. But you want to be thought of and remembered in the same way that those experts are. How do you do that? Where do you go to find someone to interview and once you find them, how do you convince them to talk with you? While there are no guarantees offered here, the steps listed below are the ones I use to book guests for my podcast.

  1. Research via Google News Alerts. I do a podcast called The Collectors Show. Every week I interview someone who is a recognized expert in his or her respective field of collecting. I’ve interviewed people who are regulars on “Antiques Roadshow” along with others who hold records for collecting, authors of price guides, tour guides and some with collections that are non-traditional. I’ve interviewed a man who collects vacuum cleaners, another who collects mustard, one who collects barf bags and another who collects fishing lures. I found them all with Google News Alerts . Google News Alerts provides as much information as I can read about collecting, collectors and collectibles. There is always a local paper or some other media outlet that covers something of interest that will show up on the alert. There is so much news about collecting and collectibles, that I also do a “news from the world of collecting” segment. Find your experts via Google News Alerts.
  2. Send and e-mail invitation. Once you located the person you want to interview, send him/her an email invitation. Introduce yourself and describe what you want to do. Tell them there is no charge for participating and that you are a friendly outlet for their views and opinions. I always say, “ours is friendly program with a friendly audience, this is not 60 Minutes.” More often than not the person you invite will say yes. In fact I have done over 50 shows and only been turned down twice.
  3. Send a list of questions. Whether you intend to record the interview over Skype, for a podcast or a written blog, do the interviewee the courtesy of sending a list of questions in advance. This will result in a better interview because your interviewee will be better prepared with more thoughtful answers. Worried about spontaneity or journalistic integrity? Well, if you are a paid member of the news media that is a reasonable consideration. If you are, on the other hand, someone who blogs because of a love of the topic you blog about, it is not. In addition to better answers, you will save time for yourself and for your interviewee. Most bloggers have real jobs, so making a good use of time is better for you too.
  4. Presume you are already friends. I had the chance to meet and work with a brilliant marketer whose name is Stan Slap (http://www.slapcompany.com/site/) Among the many things that I learned from him was “the presumption of acquaintance” with the audience. It amounts to writing as though you were writing a letter to a friend. It works when writing sales letters, brochures and it also works with interviews. Listen to some of your favorite media hosts or reporters and make note of the tone of the interview. I’m a fan of radio, so I listen to it a lot. And the thing I learned from listening to them is that they always sound like they know the person they are interviewing. Most of the time, they have never met and have never even talked on the phone before the interview starts. But you would never know that from listening. The radio personality I liked the most was a man named Ian Punnet. Ian is not on the air any more but if you go to the Coast-to-Coast web site (coasttocoastam.com), you can find some of his old shows. For a good television example, watch Jimmy Fallon. You would think he knows everyone on his program really well. He doesn’t but you would never know that from watching. If you decide to do a podcast, Blog Talk Radio is the first obvious resource. Webmaster Radio is another one to keep an eye on.
  5. Edit sparingly. For radio, podcasts or video, this used to be called “live to tape” but since no one uses tape any more, it is probably called something different. Heavily edited content looks and reads like it is abbreviated. When I do the podcast interviews I hardly every do any editing of the audio. The only time I do is when the dog barks, I start sneezing or coughing, or there is some other exterior interruption that is out of my control. If you sent the questions to your interviewee for written responses, treat them the same way. If you have to edit answers, make sure the person you interview knows this in advance. You may have to edit because of space or time limits. People understand that and will forgive you, but only if you tell them in advance.
  6. Make interviews a regular addition to your blog. This will help you with unique content for your blog in the form of expert input and provide a nice break for you. If you blog regularly you know that it is hard work and that letting someone else add his or her voice will allow you to learn and re-charge all at once.

Like most everything there is a lot more on this topic and it is freely available via the Internet. These 6 tips are based on my experience. I hope they are useful to you.

Nine Ways To Write DIY Guides

Nine Ways To Write DIY Guides
DIY is short for Do It Yourself and people love them.

Nine Ways To Write DIY Guides. I promised that I would give directions on all 13 of the suggestions for creating content in my post from March 10, 2015 and I am a man of my word. First a little background on why this matters.

The reason that public relations people and content marketers in general should collaborate is that the subject matter each develops should compliment what the other needs/wants to accomplish. The content marketer needs material for the web site that will continually attract prospective customers. The public relations person needs something “newsworthy” to write about that will attract the attention of reporters and editors. Coordinated output by each of these compliments the other, saves time, effort and money. It’s a beautiful thing.

Writing guides acknowledges that you are an expert. In the daily race to attain and keep share of mind, expert is the handle you want associated with you and your business. That said, writing is hard work. It took you a lifetime to learn everything you know about your topic, so it will also take a good bit of time to distill some of it into a guide.

There are all types of how to guides. Some are for home repair, install a new sink, re-patch your roof, or auto repair. There are guides for how to on any topic you can think of, including how to write a how to guide. Do not be discouraged that you are not the first person to decide on writing a how to guide for your area of commerce. Yours is a unique point of view based on experiences that only you had. Your guide will make known new information from within your area of expertise to people who did not know it before. That is unique and awesome.

  1. Pick a title. This is the first thing anyone will see. Your audience will self select their need for this information based in large part on what you call your guide. So pick one that is easy to discern. For example, “guide to collecting fishing lures” or “a how to guide for home buyers” are instances of titles that will narrow the audience right away. If you do not have any interest in collecting fishing lures or shopping for a home, then these respective guides are not for you. Of course on the other hand if these are what you want to know more about, bingo! The whole world is not your target audience. You do not have time or energy to sift through hundreds of leads that are not right for your business, and you do not have to. The title of your guide allows the prospect to nominate him/herself as a prospective customer.
  2. Tell what’s most important to know right away. For the sake of continuity we’ll stick with the fishing lure/home buyer examples. If you collect lures or want to start there are things to know. Is the lure rare? Do others consider it to be collectible? Why is it valued as a collectible above other, similar lures? If you are buying a home, same type of thing. How much can you afford? How big or small is your down payment? Do you want multi-story or a single story? Tell your readers in the first paragraph those things that are essential to success. Get right to the point. And resist the urge to be creative or clever. Save that for your novel. A how to guide is not a good place for examples of self-expression.
  3. Expand on the details. If the reader has stayed with you this far then good. They are ready for more. In the house-buying guide, more details are selections of home style like brick or siding, attached or detached garage, gas stove or electric. For our fishing lure collector there are different styles of lure as there are different types of water, fish and fishermen. Salt water or fresh? Lures that look like fish food or those that spin and create motion, reflect light, are certain colors for the time of day, etc. This is where you as the expert can let the reader know about “what’s what” in your respective field. If you are as enthusiastic about the topic as you should be, then this will be a piece of the how to guide that is really fun to write.
  4. Give the reader the pros and cons of each. No “how to guide” is complete without a table and/or list of pros and cons. There are few perfect or obvious choices for anything whether collecting lures or home purchase or whatever it is that you are writing about. So educate the reader about the upside of their choice and the potential for down side. Once, Marla (my wife ) and I saw a photo of a house we wanted to look at. It was gorgeous with an in-ground pool, and lots of space inside and out. It was priced right. But what we were not shown was that it was located on the banks of a river that flooded often and directly across the street from a cemetery. I am not making this up. Here is how the pros and cons list for that place looked.

House located across from a cemetery.

Pros: quiet, no bothersome neighbors, limited auto traffic.

Cons: Creepy and sad. It’s a cemetery for goodness sakes. Floods lead to floating caskets. We opted for a different house. It’s an extreme example but one that certainly makes the point.

  1. Use photos. Good photography is worth its weight in gold when it helps to tell the story and advance the narrative. For fishing lure collectors, this is a slam-dunk. What could be better than showing examples of extremely rare and collectible fishing lures? Show what “Mint Condition” means via a photograph example. Side by side examples will get read way more than other types of photos. I’m not sure why people like these “before and after” types of shots, but they do. Use this knowledge to your advantage.
  2. Be descriptive. Avoid vague words like “thing,” “part,” “stuff,” or “thingamajig.” Details matter. Without good descriptions, your guide and photos will suffer as will your credibility.
  3. Think like a chef. The best “how to” guides are the ones that give good directions. Recipes are an excellent example of good “how to” writing. Recipes are exact and give step-by-step instruction. If your guide includes those then do the reader a favor and relate instruction thusly.
  4. Post and promote your guide on line and hope for positive feedback. You may find that something you wrote was wrong or incomplete. Thank the contributor, check out the facts and make the corrections. Feedback will probably give you more ideas about what to write about next.
  5. Ignore the trolls. They will always be with us. Sadly. And there are even trolls on Linked In. There is no advantage to engaging them. Everyone else sees what they are, so don’t sweat them.

Now you know how to write a how guide. Cool! Get started and be ready for lots of engagement from new, prospective customers!

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