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Posts Tagged ‘newsletter’

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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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 recently got an email from a colleague asking me what I thought of all of these people sending emails and facebook messages asking us to Like them on their FB pages. In her case, she doesn’t know many of these people at all, and she was too nice to say that she didn’t want to know or wished she didn’t know many others.

This falls into the same category as going to a networking event and finding yourself automatically receiving someone’s newsletter without anyone’s asking your permission to be placed on a distribution list.

So what do I think? I think it’s time to suck it up and get over it! We’re all trying to build a community. Every single one of us is networking his/her ass off, working long hours, trying to think creatively and strategically. How long does it take to delete or unsubscribe from a newsletter, after all? I may or may not want to continue to receive one, but I frequently open it because I just may learn something.

Facebook and other social media apps are a way to share your expertise and thoughts. You just never know when someone’s going to see your randomized ideas and think you’re brilliant and want to work with you. It’s time to be a little generous.

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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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