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5 reasons some small businesses struggle and 3 ways having a VISIBILITY strategy can turn things around within 60 days.

The vast majority of small businesses that I come into contact with do not have a solid marketing strategy or publicity plan.

About 90%  of those I meet use what I call the “hope and pray” marketing strategy.  Actually, If I’m honest, that number may be significantly higher.

For those who do have some kind of strategy in place, I often find that it is one or more of the following:

 â–¡               Hap-hazzard.   I don’t get the unsystematic method some small business owners use to promote and market their stuff.   They’ll send a generic eblast out now and then and hope for a miracle.   Well, in today’s crowded marketplace–where choices are many–to those folks I say, keep hoping.

 â–¡               Outdated.   Why are people still advertising in the yellow pages (or any other “pages”) thinking that’s going to get them tons of business?   This is not 1974!

 â–¡               Untargeted.   I long for the day when entrepreneurs stop trying to market to EVERYBODY and start marketing to the people they can best serve. Everybody does NOT need to like you.  The only people who need to like you are the specific ones whose problems you solve.  Period.  Focus on them and you’ll uncover a goldmine.

â–¡               Unprofessional.   If one more person hands me a business card they made at home with computer paper from the local office store I swear I’m going to scream!   If I get one more eBlast from someone I don’t know blatantly saying buy this, that and the other thing, I promise you, the West Englewood girl in me will come out!! :)  

â–¡               Unleveraged. There’s a ton of free publicity opportunities in local media that go untapped because entrepreneurs don’t know how easy it is to leverage the media.   Why not try to get a slot on ABC7’s midday newscast if it means thousands of your potential clients will see you?   Is there no value in that?

So here are 3 easy ways to turn this dismal situation around.   They all have to do with positioning yourself for media visibility.   With these simple media VISIBILITY strategies, you can catapult your business to a new level within 30 — 60 days.

1.) Start showing yourself wise by writing simple how-to articles.   If you’re not a writer, don’t flee in panic.   How-to articles are not the research papers you dreaded in high school.   All they require is that you share what you know in simple steps.   If you downloaded my Publicity Virgins e-book, you’ll see how I take my media and publicity knowledge and just break it down into steps to help you apply the strategies.   BENEFIT: Articles position you as an expert.   As you do more articles, your audience will come to like and trust you and potentially even hire you.   Because of an article I wrote and posted on EzineArticles.com a few years ago, a client hired me for a small $3,000 contract.   It wasn’t much but it certainly helps the bottomline. Also, as you put yourself out there, the media will come to respect you and eventually seek you out for your expertise.

2.) Start studying the media outlets you want to be in so you can “fit in.”    I can’t tell you how many people claim they want to be on my shows but have never heard or watched me in their life.   WTH?   If you want to be featured in MONEY magazine, you better know what the writers in MONEY are talking, writing and blogging about.   In fact, as you get to know their angle, start communicating with them.   Start building a relationship with them.   Compliment their brilliant work.   Then offer your own expert angle.   Pick your outlet and start doing that today.   Do it well and it could lead to a regular feature = free publicity = more valuable visibility for you.

3.) Get to the point! Crystalize your message with a call to action.   Whether on your blog, facebook, twitter, YouTube or on successfully leveraging traditional media, your message should always be crystal clear and always have a specific call to action. I show people how to do this in a manner that is gracious without being salesy, slimy or overly promotional.

I once heard marketing genius Dan Kennedy say “people are like sheep and need to be herded.”   Once I got over being slightly offended by that statement, I said, “you know, he’s right.”   Most people need clear, specific direction.   Give them one specific thing to do to connect to you.   Invite them into your world elegantly and in the spirit of giving and the long-term benefits of that relationship will be mutual.  

Eventually, your audience will become as eager to invest in your products and services as you are to invest in them by sharing high-quality knowledge and solutions to their problems.

I’ll be teaching these strategies AND handing you my signature 5-step VISIBILITY Blueprint at the upcoming 2-day VISIBILITY Bootcamp.   10 spaces are available only for the most visionary, action-oriented entrepreneurs.   Grab your space at http://VisibilityBootcamp.com

How to be a Game Changer


The dreaded networking scenario

Today I’ll be attending a networking lunch hosted by a professional women’s association here in Chicago.   I’ve been to one of their events before and indeed, they are the crème de la crème!  

To be honest, I am not a fan of networking events.  In fact, I loathe them. As a closet introvert, there’s nothing worse than shaking hands with total strangers and having to act like I’m interested in their boring, over-rehearsed elevator speech.   Not my cup of tea.

However today, I’m going into this with a different attitude.   That’s because I made a decision earlier this year to step out of my comfort zones and connect with people who are bold thinkers, decision makers and who know that they have unique gifts to share with the world.  

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I said in December that 2012 would be the game changer.   So far so good.

So how will I maximize every opportunity, relationship and even the dreaded networking events to make this a game-changing year?   Here’s a strategy.   You can use it too:

1.)       Go with a goal.   Everything I do is being done with purpose and intention.   I DO NOT go to networking events just to be seen.   I’d rather be at home making tacos and playing Scrabble with my son.   So if I leave the comfort of my home or office for anything, I go with a specific goal in mind.   For instance, today, my goal is to meet and establish mutually beneficial relationships with at least 3 successful business women (ideally at the 6-figure level) who want to get more visibility in the media.   That’s the goal.   I’m not there to collect a zillion business cards and then have to send a bunch of corny, pre-written emails to say “just following up….”   That’s creepy and a waste of time.  Sure I’ll meet lots of people, hand out plenty of cards and be cordial but my main goal is my main goal.

2.)       Share the resources and make an impact.   Whenever I meet someone, my first objective is always to give.   It may mean giving my full attention when they’re talking or giving them tips on how to get in the media (if they ask) or giving them the name of someone I know who can help them.   Whatever the case, I always give first.   So today, I’ll have my handy 5 x 7 postcards with me.   In case I need to write down the name or phone number of a resource to share with my fellow networkers, I can write it down on one of these nice little cards (and yes, they’re branded of course) along with some encouraging words.   This will add a nice personal touch and help them remember me as well.

3.)       Own the room.   Because of my laid back nature, this is something that took me a long time to learn.   Whenever you walk into a room where you could potentially meet your next big client or where you will be talking business, you need to walk in there looking like you mean business.   So for me, that means: yesterday I took time to get a manicure, today Landis is doing my make up and I am wearing a business savvy Barbara Bates design.   Even though I probably wont know a soul, I am going to walk into that room like I am First Lady Michelle Obama!   No, I’m not conceited; I just know what it takes to achieve the goal that I set out to acheive.   The people I’m going to meet are high level professionals.   So am I!   Today, I will attract opportunities to work with brilliant women business leaders because I have the right mindset, I’m intentional and because I look the part.   So if you’re going to be a game changer, don’t just show up…SHOW UP!   Be the one that makes people wonder, “Who is that?”   That’s what game changers do.

I’ll let you know how things turn out.   I expect to report back 3 new potential clients and some outstanding business opportunities.   How are you changing the game this year?

Everyday marketing strategies for small businesses, solopreneurs and entrepreneurs

For the last few weeks we’ve been talking a lot about marketing your business and hopefully I’ve driven home the fact that you must market your business every single day. Marketing should be your top priority. If you are not marketing daily, I know for a fact that you may not doing as well as you could be in your business. In fact, you are probably struggling.

So are you ready to implement a simple, DAILY marketing strategy that lets you gracefully and generously spread the word about your product or service?

Remember, marketing is not about shamelessly promoting your business day in and day out with flyers, commercials and e-blasts. It’s about giving generously to your customers. It’s about maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship with them. It’s about educating your ideal customers on why they need your product or service and making sure they know exactly where you are, who you are, what you do and how you solve their most pressing problems or meet their needs.

If you are still shy about creating a strategic marketing campaign because you don’t really know how to do it, no worries. I’ve chunked it down into bite-sized pieces so you can start implementing some very basic and easy techniques immediately. Let’s call it:

EVERYDAY MARKETING: A super-simple, 7-day plan for small businesses and solopreneurs who want to gain loyal customers and build their brand by sharing their brilliance.

SUNDAY — Set BIG goals.   Estimated time: 45 minutes

Map out your key goals for the week.   Do you want to attract 1 new client?   Do you want to have meetings with 3 new potential clients? Do you want to generate $10,000 in new sales?   Spend time on Sunday after church and family time to set some goals that will stretch you outside of your comfort zone.

MONDAY — Reward loyal customers with added value.   Reconnect with former customers.   Estimated time: 1 hour

(1) Recognize your most loyal customers by how often they visit or how much they spend. Show your appreciation by creating a custom loyalty program that automatically rewards your Regulars.

(2) If you are a coach or consultant, use Mondays to call your 3-5 best former clients.   Reconnect with them to see how you can help them achieve their goals.   Give them a special incentive to reconnect with you.   Let them know about your new services or the new information you have that can help them.

(3) If you haven’t already done so, you can use this phone conversation to ask the former client for a testimonial about their experience working with you.   Jot it down and add that testimonial to your website or marketing materials.   Limit each phone call to 10 — 15 minutes or less.

(4) You can also use Mondays to ask former clients for referrals.   Ask 3 clients to give you referrals to 1 — 3 potential new clients that could benefit from your brilliance.   Because nobody likes cold-calling, have those clients make a warm introduction to the people they refer you to BEFORE you call.  

If you’re in retail or in a service-based business and you don’t get a lot of Monday traffic, set Monday up as a standard deep discount day.   This could also be a day where you add extra value to your product or service.   For instance, if you own a boutique, give your first ten Monday clients a 30-minute free image consultation.   This will not only allow you an opportunity to up sell them on additional consulting service, it also let’s you upsell them on additional items they may not have otherwise purchased.   For you, Mondays should be about reconnecting, giving and adding value.

TUESDAY — Connect with referrals. Build Relationships.   Estimated time: 1 hour.

Tuesday can also be slow for some businesses, so take time today to call the referrals your former clients shared with you.   Don’t sell them on anything.   Simply let them know that you heard of them through your former client and give them something–a tip, a solution, a compliment, a coupon, a referral, a copy of your book or e-book an invitation to come by your store…just give.   Then, ask them if you can add them to your mailing list.   Once you do that, start building a relationship from there.   Again, it’s all about giving.

WEDNESDAY — Leverage the media.   Estimated time: 1 hour.

Today, set aside 1 hour to scan at least 3 media outlets.   They can be newspapers, magazines, TV shows or your favorite talk radio shows.   This is so you can start leveraging the media to get free publicity for your business.

Find out which media frequently highlight businesses like yours or experts like you.   See where you message best fits in.   Then, begin to pitch the media with unique story ideas or angles that tie in to outlets you can pitch a story idea to based on your unique expertise.   I explain exactly how to pitch the media in my e-book called the Publicity Power Toolkit.   You should grab it.

THURSDAY — Attract your MOST ideal client.   Estimated time 1 — 2.5 hours.

If you could name your MOST ideal, top-tier client, who would it be?   Would it be some A-list celebrity?   A major corporation?   A noted local business person?   Identify 3 dream clients you know you could service well or solve problems for and go after them.   Make a call.   Set up a meeting.   Ask the people in your circle if they know someone who can help you get closer to that person.   Today, your marketing goal is to begin the process of connecting with your most ideal clients.

Another recommendation for Thursday is to attend a networking event at least once a month.   Go outside of your usual terrain.   If you’re a suburbanite go downtown.   If you’re downtown, go up north.   Either way, begin to surround yourself with some new contacts.   Get out of your comfort zone.   Meet some new people.   Take it up a notch!   If you are the smartest one in the room you need to move to a new room and that’s what Thursday is about.  

FRIDAY — Share your expertise.   Estimated time 1.5 hours

You have two options for today:

- Repeat any of the strategies you learned earlier this week or

- Let today be the day to share your expertise with your audience.  

So, if you have a blog, post an entry that displays your expertise.   Post tips on Twitter or FaceBook. Write a quick “how-to” article and submit it to one of the article marketing sites like ezinearticles.com.   These are ways to build your brand and let people know that you are the expert.   Friday doesn’t have to be the ONLY day you post articles but if your ideal market knows that every Friday they can read something brilliant that you wrote, they will anticipate your brilliance every week.   That’s the foundation of loyalty, trust and a good relationship.

SATURDAY — Automate your marketing messages.   Estimated time: 30 minutes.

If you are fairly advanced in internet marketing strategies, spend 30-minutes today creating automated messages that will go out to your social media networks throughout the week.   These messages can go out to your Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and FOURSquare accounts simultaneously by using a tool called HooteSuite.com.   It’s free and it allows you to schedule messages and stay connected without actually taking valuable time during the work week.   You can use HooteSuite to send messages about upcoming events, sales, success strategies, great books you’ve read, effective tips you want to share or whatever will help you effectively strengthen your brand.

If you don’t think you can do it all yourself (and you shouldn’t if you are TRULY a visionary), hire an enthusiastic part-time college intern and give them a copy of this blog post.   Let this be their project.   Either way, don’t make any excuses.   DO IT!

Let’s ALL–including me–take the challenge and make the commitment to follow this 7-day super-simple marketing calendar for one solid week.   Then, let’s come back and share the results.  

Who’s in?

 

 
 
 
 
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