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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

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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1. Fill out the Profile sections on social media applications. When creating your Facebook page, Linkedin account or Twitter page, fill out all of the fields in the About/Profile sections. Make these as comprehensive as possible, using your keywords to talk about your products/services.

2. Write wallposts ahead of time so you’ll have these already prepared and you won’t have to think about what to post.

3. Create an image archive–this is a visual medium and viewers have very short attention spans.

4. Be on the lookout for articles that are relevant for your audience so you can link to these from your social media sites–this positions you as an industry expert, staying on top of what’s going on in your field. Share quotes and excerpts.

5. When people comment on your posts, respond to these comments. This activity helps keep your posts at the top of your timeline–and visible.

6. Start blogging. Use WordPress or other blogging platforms to build your blog–they’re free and easy to use. Blogging is a commitment, and you should be posting a blog at least once/week. Make sure that you’re publishing your blog to your social media sites for additional exposure and that there’s a link on your website. Repurpose your blog posts to your newsletters and excerpts to social media.

7. Use a dashboard application–ping.fm, HootSuite, etc. This will allow you to publish your posts to all of your social media sites at once. It will also allow you to schedule your social media posts ahead of time–a great tool if you’re busy going to be on vacation. Dashboard tools allow you to attach links and images and publish to Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest and Google+.

8. Implementing new processes: When you add new contacts to your contact management system, log in to your social media applications and ask them to become Facebook friends and to Like your Facebook page, Connect with them on Linked in and ask them to Follow you on Twitter. Do the same with them, because communication works both ways.

9. Integrate. Make sure that your website and newsletter have links to your social media sites and that you are publishing your newsletter to them.

10. Read the Help menus–you will be amazed what you will learn!

Still need help and/or running out of time? Let us help you. 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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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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I happen to believe that unless you work for the government, you’re in sales. And that means that you can’t ever stop being a salesperson because you never know who your next client will be, or more important, who referred you. You can’t really ever stop selling.

Does this mean that you always have to be on? Yes, I think you do. You want to command respect and inspire confidence. You want to be perceived as someone who has integrity and accountability. On top of that, you need to be creative, pragmatic and solutions oriented. This is your brand and it needs to be lovingly nurtured.

Lately, I’ve been a victim of people who don’t return phone calls, are consistently late, stand me up for meetings and always seem to have some lame excuse for not meeting a deadline. The message is loud and clear that my time is not as important as theirs. Would I ever refer these people to a friend or colleague? Are you kidding? A few examples:

  • I recently worked on a website project where the designer completely disappeared for two months. She finally surfaced with some lame excuse about being in crisis. I was raised to not have a crisis; rather, to deal with it. With her eventual reappearance, I had hoped that we could create a working relationship, but it continued to be a source of frustration and anxiety for me. If I wanted to talk with her, I began a week ahead of time, hoping that a consistent barrage of emails, voicemails and texts would raise her. We did finally launch the website, but it was four months late.
  • A colleague in my networking group agreed to arrive early one morning to set up the projector. Not only did he not get there early, he never showed up at all.
  • I drove from Berkeley to Danville to meet with a client, and my phone rang as I pulled into the parking lot. It was she, wondering if we could just do our meeting over the phone.

These people are all small business owners, and I don’t care how brilliant they are, I would never refer anyone to them. This is a tough economy, and you need to be conscious of the impression you are making all of the time, because you just never know whom your next client will be.

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I recently met with a new client and we began by taking an inventory of her marketing activity.

  • She was doing a pretty good job of networking and had built some good strategic alliances.

  • She was limping along with social media–no regular posts, no dialoging with her community. Her personal page had only a fleeting reference to her business–a big missed opportunity

  • No newsletter or blog

  • Website okay and tells a nice story, though could use some editing

  • SEO: she showed up in a meet-up, but was otherwise unremarkable

We talked about market sectors, target audience and how to reach them. I asked her if she was doing any cold calling. She looked at me like I was crazy. I looked back at her because I thought she was even crazier.

I suggested we create a list and start contacting her ideal clients. I also suggested that she go back through her client list and contact those people who might be interested in her services again or be able to refer her to a colleague or friend.

This is what it takes to build a business. You need to be doing it all–social media, cold calls, endless follow-up and networking. This is a full-time job, but wait–you still have to be doing the client work that pays your bills.

Okay. Time for some stats:

  • 2% of sales are made on the first contact. This is pathetic.

  •  3% of sales are made on the second contact

  • 5% of sales are made on the third contact

  • 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact

  • A whopping 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

These stats tell the story. If you want business, you have to ask for it. Make a commitment to spend a couple of hours/week on cold calls and follow-up. Most important: give yourself a big reward–you’ve earned it.

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