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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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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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I met with a new client yesterday and I asked her what they’re doing to market themselves. They’re two women attorneys who’ve been in business for ten years, and they’ve successfully weathered several economies. They belong to several legal organizations and sit on a few BODs. They’d do more networking, but frankly, both have two small children under 4, and they’re stretched pretty thin. Also, let’s not forget (ladies) that women are always the primary caregivers.

They have an intake form on their website, which generates a fair number of inquiries, but only a few of these turn out to be valid clients.

This brings me to my own realization. I have a fair number of 5-star ratings on Yelp, and over the last few months I have received quite a few calls from potential clients. I call these people back, discuss their requirements, prepare a proposal and schedule follow-up call to discuss their projects.

All of these efforts have been a waste of time because none of these people has been ready to spend any money on marketing. They all have unrealistic expectations about the time it takes to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy, create a newsletter, a blog or website. One person wanted me to develop and execute a very labor-intensive social media campaign, assuming that he could pay me once his business got off the ground. Is he crazy?

Another thing these people have in common–none of them understands that networking and word of mouth are the most important ways to build a business. Every single one of these people expected a website, blog, newsletter or social media to bring clients storming through his/her doors.

Get a grip. Successful business owners know that networking and word of mouth are essential to business growth. Most of all, it takes considerable time and effort to develop and nurture the relationships that generate new business. Savvy business owners know that we don’t have choices about how we market ourselves–we have to be doing it all.

Ask me about how to make the most of your marketing dollars–it’s what we do at Top of Mind Marketing!

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It’s a feeding frenzy. We blog, crank out newsletters, try to keep our websites current and our social media sites updated with snappy new content because that’s whey “they” tell us we should be doing. But remember the old thing about if a tree falls in the woods? If no one reads it, why bother–especially since all you really want to do is go to bed before midnight and get some sleep so you can start all over again the next day.

Increase your chance of being read–sex it up!

Having something to say is important, but frankly, that’s not enough. You’ve got to sex this up. Use a catchy subject line to grab people’s attention. Include images–these are visual media. Think of something funny, be a little outrageous. Tell a story or use a case study–infinitely more powerful than just telling people what you can do. Give an example of how you helped one of your clients increase sales and grow his/her business.

Finally, don’t be afraid to share an opinion. One of my pals told me something a long time ago which I have always remembered. Don’t be afraid to share an opinion. Those who like you will like you even more. Those who don’t probably won’t like you any less, and that’s not going to change.

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Small business owners have a few very important things in common: too many roles and too little time. We should probably also factor in too little money and too few clients. We need to be COO, CFO, Marketing Director and Sales Manager. We also need to do our client work if we expect to get paid and grow our businesses.

One of my clients adds yet another few roles to her repertoire–she is a trainer who travels more than she would like, and she is dealing with aging parent syndrome. We were talking about prioritizing her marketing-related activities, and she told me that she is agonizing over her blog. Blog? Is she crazy?

She thinks that she has to generate unique content for her blog, website, newsletter and social media. She can’t, I can’t and you probably can’t either. Instead, practice content economies– your blog can be posted to your social media sites. It can also be featured in your newsletter, and you can increase your visibility and SEO by publishing your blog posts as articles to online magazines.  Pull ideas from these articles to fuel your social media posts.

Sustainability: Identify what you can successfully manage, then let go of the rest.

When it comes to social media, if you can’t keep this lively and updated with interesting content, links and images, you shouldn’t be in this space. Think about it–if your last Facebook post was in January and someone visits your page six months later, he/she’s going to see a person who doesn’t have any imagination or ability to follow through.

If your marketing plan contains more than you can accomplish, it won’t work for you, so shorten it. Figure out how much time you can devote to marketing every week; if you have two hours, strategize about how to make those two hours the best possible investment of your marketing time and add one more role to your growing list–that of magician.

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I have a new client for whom we’re building a simple website. She is obsessed with this site, thinking that once this is launched, she will have more business than she can handle. She’s actually thinking about having hiring new staff, meeting a payroll, new facilities, etc. I’m trying to let her down easily, but, as we all learn, a website is hardly a marketing solution in itself. Rather, it is just one of many channels that we have to be using to reach our clients.

For this client, I have suggested that she start attending networking events, working on a newsletter and developing a social media presence–efforts that can be either no or low cost. She’s afraid that if she meets or talks to someone and they see that she doesn’t have a website, she will lose potential business.

Get a grip. People go to our websites to see if they’re well written, thoughtful and organized, if there are good graphics and some case studies to show how we work with our clients. They may or may not ever generate any real ROI.

We live in a time when we have all of these exciting new ways to market ourselves, but this can be both a benefit and a burden. The reality is that it takes a lot of effort to learn how to use these channels, and we already have our day jobs which is the work we do for our clients.

Ask us about our hands-on workshops helping small business owners develop marketing strategies that help them learn how to use all of this great new media.

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I was reading a report recently that listed 64 things to do to keep your Facebook presence lively and fresh. Sigh. Sometimes, it’s hard to be clever, funny and dispense little pearls of wisdom in a few sentences–no wonder people can’t keep up. This, along with FB’s constant changes to its interface, the fact that the FB help menu sucks, trying to figure out the recent rollout of Timeline, a news-driven interface where users can edit the content they want to receive, and it becomes a bit overwhelming.

I was reading a report that had 64 tips for upgrading the quality of your posts. Some of these are good; others ridiculous. Some, happily, are things I’m already doing, so I see these as best practices. These are some things that I think are worth doing, ways to make it easier to manage your social media and make it more meaningful.

  1. Create a week’s worth of wallposts/messaging at a time. In this way, you will be able to upload a message every day or so without thinking about it. You know how that goes–the phone rings and you’re off and running and forgot about social media until you are ready to go home. Doing this ahead of time makes it easier to incorporate it into your daily routine.
  2. Ask questions. I’m experimenting with this now. So far, the response is a big fat zero, but I’m not giving up, and I like this concept a lot–you’re soliciting a response and people love to think of themselves as authorities.
  3. Upload images. This is especially important if you’re a business with a portfolio. Designers, architects, those in food-related industries or galleries. Anyone with good pictures will find a happy home on Facebook.
  4. Link to articles or other sites. This is especially important if yours is an industry where there are lots of good articles–a spa could link to endless articles about taking care of baby-boomer skin; architects can link to new design trends or award-winning designs. Besides making you look like you know what’s going on, people like to have something to click on.
  5. Publish your blog and newsletter to social media sites. I do this and always get a few good responses. Just paste the link to your blog and newsletter into the message field and it will create a little thumbnail and upload.

Give these a try–they’re easy to incorporate. I will share more in my next post.

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