Archive for the ‘The basics’ Category

I have to admit that I never unsubscribed from the Obama campaign emails, and I was just reading in Bloomberg that I’m not alone. Part of the reason I hung in there was the messaging. It was good. Okay. Very good. Stuff like “Do this for Michelle.” “Join Michelle and me” These, especially got my attention because we all love Michelle Obama.

No surprise, the Obama people are smart
They tested and retested every subject line as many as 18 times to tens of millions of readers, including me, to get the maximum impact. The killer? I will be outspent. The poor-little-me approach apparently generated more than $2.5M. Casual worked best as well as slipping in the occasional “hell” or “damn”. People love a little bit of naughty. Conclusion: Most people have a nearly limitless capacity for e-mail and won’t unsubscribe no matter how many they’re sent.

Okay. We’re addicted to our email
But we also know that we need to be constantly trying to compete for eyeballs. It’s madness out there. How to turn boring into scintillating?

Looking for easy 5 ways to start using Facebook this week?
Call me for a free overview. Top of Mind Marketing


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Every year I have a little flirtation with New Year’s resolutions. Some years I hedge my bets by calling them commitments–for some reason, this takes the power out of them, but they’re still resolutions that I generally blow off in a couple of weeks.

Topping off my list is the perennial promise to lose ten pounds. Do I keep this? Are you kidding? That’s why I don’t make New Year’s resolutions!

This year, I’m trying to make resolutions that I know I can keep. These are things that I’ve been thinking about, things that I know I am motivated to achieve:

1. Include Calls to Action on my communications. If you want something, don’t be afraid to ask for it!

2. Launch my new website. I’m making this in WordPress so that I can upload new marketing tips, archive my newsletters and link to my blogs. Sorry. Just like groceries, your website has a shelf life.

3. Follow up with potential clients on a regular basis. There really is something called a sales cycle and a quarterly call keeps you in mind. Ask potential clients when would be a good time to call back.

4. Write more, publish more and get the most out of everything I produce. I repurpose my blog posts to my newsletters and extract excerpts to social media. But there’s more: I want to start publishing these articles to ezines such as articlesbase, articlepool, tumblr, posturous, articlesnare.

Finding as many outlets as possible for your writing contributes to your SEO–get your name and your keywords out there. Ask your colleagues and clients about guest-blogging gigs–they’d probably be relieved to have someone fill a column from time to time!

5. Sex up my subject lines. Time to get creative here–and this goes for myself as well as for my clients. It really doesn’t matter how earnest or well-intentioned your message. If you don’t catch someone’s immediate attention, he/she is not going to read further.

So here I am with five resolutions. Can I keep these? This year I can because I’ve already begun embracing these business goals for 2013. If there’s anything scarier than resolutions for me, it’s goals. What a year this promises to be . . .

Ask me about capturing your clients’ attention with smart, strategic writing. It’s what we do at Top of Mind Marketing.

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I’ve been using Constant Contact (CC) for five years. I used to be their biggest fan because I loved their customer support–it’s hard not to love their award-winning support team. I also give them high marks for staying on top of technology, and constantly improving their product. When I first started using them, it was right before Christmas; I was on a deadline and hopelessly stuck. I called them, and a really nice little guy wasn’t busy so he just created the newsletter for me. That’s some serious customer service.

I don’t know about you, but I hate paying for something I don’t use

While I try to do a monthly newsletter, I have to admit that sometimes it just doesn’t happen, which means that I continue to pay CC for my “monthly” newsletter. I also pay them an extra $5/month for the privilege of using more than five images–which I think is important–nobody these days wants to look at a page full of text. CC plays games with lists as well. I carefully culled my list down to fewer than 500 so I wouldn’t have to pay for the next increment, but they calculated the number based on the number of email addresses in my system, not the newly imported list.

I switched to Vertical Response and pay for what I use

So I’m now using Vertical Response (VR). There’s a learning curve, the Help menu sucks and the customer support doesn’t begin to compare to that of CC. But the good news? I can use as many images as I want, I pay for only what I use, and my newsletter bill is now in the neighborhood of $8/month rather than $30. I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying this. Get this: One of my clients sends her quarterly newsletter to more than 1,200 clients, and we just migrated to VR, which represents a significant savings because she was being charged for eight months worth of newsletters that she never sent.

CC charges by the month. If you’re not sending a monthly newsletter, it’s time to rethink your provider strategy. I’m now a VR power user. Ask me about saving money using Vertical Response and other pragmatic marketing solutions that work. It’s what we do at Top of Mind Marketing.

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Okay. Admit it. How many times have you sat through movies that you love? We all have our fav’s–if it’s really good, it’s worth seeing again, right?

Think how comforting it is to veg out on the couch and know exactly what’s going to happen. Watching your favorite actors and repeating the dialog along with them. I’m a sucker for The Godfather, and I love The Italian Job and Jerry Maguire, which frequently show up on the rerun channels. I’ve sobbed through A Love Affair to Remember more times than I care to account for. The bottom line is that if it’s worth watching, it’s worth watching again.

In the same way, if you have a great blog post, a brilliant newsletter article or a particularly thoughtful social media post, give yourself a break and revisit, repurpose, revamp, rehab or reuse them. Review what you’ve created through the last year or so that’s worth reposting.

If you like it, if it’s still timely, chances are your readers will like it as well, and no one’s going to suspect that it’s a retread. When reposting, I often embellish a bit, add an example and perk it up with a new graphic to provide a facelift.

Ask me about other ways to make the most of your marketing dollars–which is also about your time, which I suspect is in short supply, especially this time of year. Top of Mind Marketing.

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If anyone wonders what brand’s all about, take a look at the San Francisco Giants. Theirs is a brand of baseball that’s only partly about bats, balls and a diamond. The Giants’ brand of baseball is low on superstars, high on heart and grounded by a fierce team spirit.

Let’s take a look at this extraordinary group of guys

There’s Reverend Pence–the latecomer who inspired the team to win another game because they were having too much fun to let the season end. Timmy had a dreadful year, but redeemed himself by roaring out of the bullpen and shutting down our playoff opponents. MVP Marco Scutaro’s midseason arrival was what one sportscaster called a “band-aid”, but he turned out to be the little guy who just kept on making the big plays. Pablo? We forgave his packing around an extra 40 pounds when he hit three homeruns in the first game of the World Series. Buster, with his quiet grace, leadership and extraordinary skill, raised the bar in every single game he played.

And the Brandons?

Crawford began the season as a bungler and ended it as a magician, while Belt finally lived up to his name. Pagan and Blanco became contortionists in the outfield, as the Giants became known for some of the best defense in major league baseball. We counted on Matt Cain to be our brilliantly consistent workhorse, and this year we were rewarded with a perfect game; Barry Zito triumphed over the formidable Verlander and finally earned his exorbitant salary; and Ryan Vogelsong proved that steely concentration and tenacity win ballgames, and age is irrelevant.
Never underestimate a powerful bullpen

When Bochy made his frequent trips to the mound, we wondered which who was up next, but it didn’t really matter because we had the best bullpen in baseball–Affeldt, Casilla, Lopez, etc. We loved Romo, who threw deadly sliders with soulful intensity; and somewhere over the course of the summer, we looked at each other and realized that Sergio had become a superb closer.
Sweeping the team that swept the Yankees

I’m as surprised as anyone that we pulled this one out of the hat. The Giants are known for torture ball, not coming from behind to win against impossible odds. If someone had told me in April that we’d sweep the team that swept the Yankees, I would never have believed him.

A lesson learned: You can’t buy a World Series

The best part is that we competed against teams that spent hundreds of millions of dollars on high-priced players to buy a championship. But what those high-priced teams didn’t have was an all-important intangible–the sheer will to keep winning one more game because they loved playing baseball together. I’m looking forward to February–just four more months until the call for pitchers and catchers to report. Don’t stop believing; hold on to the feeling.

Ask me about brand as well as digital media strategies–it’s what we do at Top of Mind Marketing

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I’m now managing social media accounts for a growing number of clients. That means logging in to each client’s accounts and coming up with something clever to say.

I also research what’s going on in their industries and link to articles to show how brilliant they are. I identify and upload images because people have short attention spans and this is a visual medium.

Even more important, there’s the herculean task of growing their online communities so everyone will understand just how brilliant my clients are and seek them out to do business with them.

This is what I do for my social media clients, and it’s taking an increasingly bigger chunk of my time; and I’m trying to find an application to automate this effort.

The problem? There are lots of apps out there, and each has strengths, limitations and a range of price points.

I’m spending a lot of time trying to figure these out. Some have serious deficiencies–Splashcube, an app that does a great job with Twitter lead generation, doesn’t support images–this won’t work for me. I’m also spending an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to set up accounts for all of my clients within these apps. Endless trouble tickets and emails with little resolution are making me want to go back to doing it the old-fashioned way, but I know that I’ve got to find a way to work smarter.

My beef? Why can’t those brilliant minds down in Silicon Valley figure out what we need and just make it happen? How hard can this be?

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I was recently invited to the annual awards luncheon for a wonderful organization, the Women’s Initiative. It provides high-potential, low-income women with the training, funding and support to start their own businesses and become financially self sufficient.

The stats are impressive–just one year after graduation, graduates of the program average household income increases 60%. Five years after training, 70% of graduates are still in business. It goes on.

During the luncheon, we listened to the three award winners tell their stories, and everyone at my table was wiping away tears. One woman’s story was particularly moving. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants, a single mother and the first person in her family to graduate from not just college, but law school.

She did this while her epileptic daughter was facing brain surgery. Most women in the program face language barriers and god only knows what other heinous obstacles. The program is supportive but rigorous. They learn to write a business plan, manage money, hire employees and create a customer service ethic.

Like many people in the room of more than 200 people, I was inspired to volunteer. I figure that all of these inspiring women could probably use some help with their marketing, and there are few things I love more than brainstorming about marketing ideas and implementing them on a miniscule budget.

But more than that, think about what would happen if everyone did just one thing to help somebody else. This is something I have always believed in. Be generous with your time.

Ask me about making the most of your marketing dollars–which is really all about your time. It’s what we do at Top of Mind Marketing!

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