More Networking For Your Business

Bet I can make you cringe with just one word. Watch:

Networking.

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You felt a knot in your stomach, didn’t you? Believe me, I understand. I was once the shy little girl who hid from everyone. The last place I wanted to be was in a room full of strangers. Getting out of your comfort zone can be extremely difficult, especially if there’s no one forcing you to do so (I “luckily” have a husband that pushes me further than I would go myself).

But networking isn’t as scary as it seems. Just remember: everyone there feels exactly as unsure and unconfident as you do, despite what it seems from the outside.

Baby Steps

If you’re not sure about jumping into an evening event in your town, start small. There are hundreds of networking groups online that fill virtually every niche.

5 Ideas to Help your Sales Staff Maximize their Training

I know that when you hire sales staff, who often have a short shelf life, you want to get them out into the field as soon as possible. But here’s why that’s a bad idea: sales people who are poorly trained will not only NOT make you instant sales, they may also damage your company permanently. If a salesperson isn’t properly trained in both your product and your marketing strategy, they will be unprepared to answer questions or present your product smoothly.

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So if they’re salespeople, why should they know what the marketing department is doing? Here’s why.

  • Sales and marketing are intertwined. It’s often hard to see where one ends and another begins. Sales staff carry marketing material and give marketing presentations. Marketing material is designed to sell products or services.

  • Sales staff represent your company. Sometimes a salesperson is all a potential client sees of your company. Therefore it’s essential that not only they put forward a professional face (in dress, manner, and actions), but also that they understand the product in every way possible.
  • Having strengths in marketing makes salespeople stronger. It’s always good for an employee to have a decent understanding of other areas of a business. Salespeople definitely need to understand your company’s marketing strategy. It will make them stronger at selling in the long run.

5 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Marketing

Is it safe to assume that your marketing strategy sucks since you’re reading this article about how to improve your marketing? You have one advantage over the competition: you’re reading this blog. As a business owner, I know it’s hard to stay on top of so many things, but don’t let your marketing homework slip by. It might be a bigger mistake than crimping your hair or tight rolling your jeans was in high school!

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There is so much information available today. Too much, in fact. How can you weed through the plethora of websites to find what is relevant to your business without wasting all of your time? Here are 5 tips to get you the Clif’s Notes on marketing quickly.

1. Get Help. If you have an assistant or a staff member who can keep on top of marketing trends, consider yourself lucky. Because your time is valuable (you probably have a pricetag in mind for what an hour of your time is worth), it’s always better to offload the work to someone whose pricetag is cheaper. An assistant may spend 5 hours gathering information, which might cost, say, $50, whereas it might have taken you longer and cost more.

2. Find What Works and Stick With it. Deciding to improve your marketing requires time. Don’t waste time flitting from one resource to another. If you find a few magazines, websites, books or newsletters that provide the content you need, use them. Bookmark them and refer to them often.

4 Ways to to Keep Your Email Marketing Out of the Viagra Inbox

I don’t like spam. I’m sure like me, your spam folder is filled with emails that promise to fulfill your every sexual need. Unfortunately, I’m not the target market for Viagra and its counterparts. While the idea of spam is that by blanketing every findable email address with an ad for a given product, a percentage will buy it, this isn’t an effective email marketing ploy. Don’t do it.

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Spammers are careless marketers. But, if even 1% of 100,000 buy their product, that’s enough to pay for the time spent spamming! According to Techdirt, 14% of people read spam, and at least 4% admit to buying products from spam emails. Still, it’s an unsavory practice, and you can hope that spammers don’t sleep well at night.

How to Stay Out of the Spam Box

So how do you make sure only those people who are within your target receive your marketing message? In this case, we’ll focus on email marketing. Here’s a true or false quiz to see if you know the answer.

Advertising that Works: Giveaways

My pick this week for advertising that works is McDonald’s. First, let me stress how vehemently I have detested McDonald’s for years. I just don’t like their food. I hadn’t stepped into one in probably 10 years, but I have a 2 year old who likes Shrek, so I recently broke that boycott. I say all this to show you how good this advertising campaign is: it got me to go to McDonald’s.

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On my AOL Instant Messenger bar is a little box that runs ads. Typically, I ignore it. But one day there was an ad for Mickey D’s for its Chilled Out Lounge.† I liked the font, so I moused over it to see what it was about. A coupon for a free vanilla iced coffee appeared. Aside from the fact I have had vicious cravings for iced coffee as of late, I was pulled in by the giveaway of something of value. I clicked.

A website popped up that showed a loungey room filled with mod furniture and mod people looking beautiful and detached. The concept, I believe, was that you could interact  with the people by clicking on some (not all) and seeing a talk bubble pop up. I actually was turned off by this. The people didn’t say anything important, and the interactive factor somehow missed the mark. However, there was a link for my free coupon for an iced coffee! And cleverly, you could email it to a friend. One feature I did like is that if you pushed the spacebar, it would appear to your boss that you were working on an important spreadsheet. But it’s not like there was enough on the site to actually warrant hiding the 3 seconds spent there from your boss.

6 Ways to Take Your Marketing Online

So you own a small boutique in a small town. Or you’re a doctor. Or you run a produce shop. You think marketing online is for people who have customers nationwide. You couldn’t be further from the truth.

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Early on, the promise of the Internet as the great equalizer went largely unfulfilled for the numerous small businesses with local customers. In 2007, with localization and geocoding, those same small businesses can maintain a very effective, yet targeted web presence; enhancing their local presence and not wasting money on attempting to extend themselves into a position they cannot support.

More people are throwing out their hefty phone books in favor of using the internet to find local businesses. I, for one, won’t even consider a local business if they don’t have some kind of web presence. Why? I want to:

a) See what they offer before driving to the business (try before you buy). I’m a big menu reader online!
b) Determine whether they deem it worthwhile to develop a decent professional presence on the web. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but having a website goes a long way toward making me feel the business understands the value.

If I, for instance, need to find a car collision repair shop in Orlando near where my car was rear-ended last week (true story), I type “car repair Orlando”  in a Google search. I find one where I want it, and call. It may not be true, but if the business has a website, I feel they’re less likely to be a “fly-by-night”  operation. It’s all image.

Why Viral Marketing Works So Well

If you’re an entrepreneur with a small marketing budget (and I assume you are because you’re reading this), viral marketing can be a great tool to get the word out about your product or brand without spending much (if any) money.

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The concept behind viral marketing is that is spreads like, well, a virus, by word of mouth and social media. It’s not the giant billboard downtown. It’s not the glossy magazine ad. It’s the kids passing out energy drink samples at a concert. It’s Digg. It’s telling a friend how much you like a store.

Take this blogger, for example. Douglas Karr runs The Marketing Technology Blog, and in order to promote it, is offering an analysis of other blogs in return for a mention on other people’s blogs. One little mention gets a value-added service. In just the 4 days this promotion has been running, he has already had several people take up his offer (me included). Now here’s the viral element. If you are a blogger and you’re reading this, I’m willing to bet you will click on the link to his blog to find out how you can get tips from Douglas on improving your blog. To do so, you have to put a link up. A few bloggers read it on your blog, and the promotion is as viral as the cold I’m getting today. Only without the phlegm.

Happy Birthday to Egg Marketing

Happy Birthday to Egg Marketing and Public Relations! I just wanted to share my company’s birthday with all you readers! Egg Marketing & Public Relations turns 1 year today! It’s been a long year, but I’m happy to reach this…

Delegate: 4 Reasons You Are Not the Best Person to Handle Every Aspect of Your Business

As an entrepreneur, you wear many hats. If you’re like me, you handle sales, billing, accounts payable, marketing AND the product (in my case, writing). Why do we do this? Partially because we feel we can’t afford to delegate to pay someone to do these things for us (or rather, we’ll have more money if we don’t hire anyone else). We also do it because we think we are the most competent people in the world, and we can’t trust anyone else to do the job as well as we will.

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I have a secret. You are NOT the best person to handle every aspect of your business. You’re not. And neither am I. You started your business because you had a specific skill set or experience in an area, not because you were a great accountant, salesperson, and manager.

Think of it this way: if you were forced to pick only one ‘job’ to do in your company, what would it be? That’s the one you’re good at and enjoy the most. So make that your job and  delegate to find someone else to do the rest.

Entrepreneurs tend to get in their own way. If you’re working in your business and not on it, you miss a lot. You can get so bogged down handling all the different roles you’ve taken on that you end up doing none of them effectively. Do you really want complete control of all aspects of your business if the risk you take is the failure of your company?

It truly helps to have a third party look at the way you do things and assess whether that’s the best way to do it. For instance, I meet so many small business owners who have been ‘doing’ their own marketing for years. But they’re not growing. Marketing for them tends to consist of phone book ads or a poorly laid Google AdWord ad. It’s all they have time for, and they have put the effort forth in spurts. But I can come in and tell them that the phone book ad is a waste of money, and that I can give them a more well-rounded marketing campaign that will cost less than they’re spending now! Who wouldn’t want that?!

A 5 Point Description of Marketing 2.0

If you follow my blog (and I understand there actually are a few of you who do), you hear me talk about Marketing 2.0. You heard it here first! I want to break it down into its most basic form so that you can better understand the importance it is playing in our world of ecommerce.

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  • First, it is interactive. No longer are we forced to sit on the couch and take our daily dose of advertising. We now can jump in the television (or computer) and change the color of the background, choose what pose the personality takes, and tell them how we like to get our messages. More or less.


Take YouTube, for example. What started out as a way for teenagers to post inane videos of skateboarding falls has turned into the single biggest factor affecting media today. Yes, there are still the ‘idiot videos,’ but now they’re mixed in with product spoofs (spoof or not, it got iPhone attention), commercials that are actually interesting, and now even political debates. What used to be solely for the tech-savvy consumer is now being wooed by major players like CNN.

YouTube works because it is interactive. Once you view a video you can share it with friends. That’s how a silly Transformers rap has been viewed over 510,000 times!

  • Marketing 2.0 is a conversation between consumers and companies. Since we have all but removed commercials from our television viewing repertoire thanks to Tivo, companies have to find new ways to reach their audience. That means they have to ask consumers what they want. They’re listening for once!

Branding to Rebranding: The Art of Marketing Reinvention

I find myself watching commercials lately, not fast forwarding through them. The difference is, I’m doing it on my computer, and I choose the ones I want to watch. Marketing 2.0 at its best.

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Anyway, the commercial I’m watching is from Burger King. The company, which has changed hands several times (as well as marketing firms) in the past few years, seems to be onto something with its bizarre Burger King showing up in bed with people and dancing in the desert. Whopper eaters mysteriously grow handlebar mustaches. It’s a crazy burger world.

The company must be doing something right. While its stock bottomed out last August at $12.41, it has now doubled since then. You used to not have any particular image in mind when you thought of Burger King a few years ago.

Now they have rebranded to become something funky that people want to be a part of. Even back in 2004, when the Subservient Chicken came out, people spread the viral marketing campaign like wildfire. (Many an hour did I spend trying to figure out if it was live or manual. Didn’t that chicken ever need to use the bathroom??)

The point is, sometimes you have to step back and look at your brand. You may like it, but if sales are dropping faster than, well, Subservient Chicken droppings, you may need to consider a rebrand.

Press Release 101: 24 Reasons to Toot Your Own Horn

Many companies don’t believe they have anything newsworthy to tell the world about. They couldn’t be more wrong. Every single business has something that’s worth putting into a press release. It’s just a matter of looking at it the right way.

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Your news doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. It might not even matter to anyone outside of the company, but if you’re proud of it, toot your horn!

The more news you have, the more active your company appears to be.

Can’t think of anything to write a release on? I’ve written about press releases before, but I want to expand the list. Here’s 24 ideas for you.