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One of my favorite ways to learn new things is by watching YouTube videos. I have several channels that I subscribe to, including Bar None Cowboy Church, Missouri Star Quilt Company, and Dennis Kirk. YouTube is a great way to learn a new skill, like quilting, check on the latest motorcycle accessories or get to hear a sermon that reveals something new about Jesus to me, or about myself and what I need to work on in my spiritual life.

YouTube is free, and if you’ve already using Gmail for your email, then you already have a YouTube account. You just need to make some videos and upload them to your channel. It sounds simple and it really is.

But if you’re going to use YouTube to market yourself, your business or your ministry, there are a few things  you need to consider.

First, the name of your channel should be self-explanatory. Then you’ll need to have some nice channel art to ‘decorate’ the top of the home page for the channel. YouTube actually has a template for you to download so you have all sizes covered- anything from displaying your channel on a phone screen, all the way up to big screen TVs. Take the extra time to create a nice cover image for the channel art to catch the attention of potential viewers.

And if you really want to look good, your videos can have a title screen so viewers know what they’re going to watch.

It’s a little bit of work, but if you can have videos marketing what you do- whether it’s teaching how to cook spaghetti, or how to use the newest computer software – make it count. Remember, first impressions are important!

Author: Beth R - Categories: marketing

One very effective, FREE, way to get a little publicity is by supplying press releases to local and regional newspapers. Blogs, internet news sites (both legitimate and satire) and social media continue to keep the newest piece of information in front of readers. Since newspapers continue to cut staff to keep budgets in line, they’re going to look more and more to customer-supplied information and news stories.

So if you can create a well-written press release about your story, you can many times get your story printed. Here’s a good article from CBS News that lists several things to consider when writing a press release. It also has several examples to look at.

Besides these suggestions, I was always taught to put the most important part of the story at the front – each following paragraph should be of lesser importance. This helps the editor – if they need to cut some of the text for space, they can simply remove the later paragraphs.

And another idea- if you can include a picture, that’s even better. Most people are more likely to read a story if there’s a picture attached.

Author: Beth R - Categories: Living an intentional life,marketing

I’d like to introduce you to one of my customers. Greta Kataha has lived an amazing life- she’s survived things most people can’t imagine.

Devastating illness, facing death and sexual exploitation, prejudice, racism, ostracized by family and friends. Countless setbacks in her personal, professional and ministry life. Separated from her late husband and babies due to war in Africa and fighting to keep her interracial marriage for almost 29 years. Through grief, widowhood, too many losses and suicide itself.

Her book contains  just some of her testimony, and I’d like to encourage you to pick up a copy.

It’s currently available in paperback on Amazon and for all e-readers on Smashwords.

You can also follow Greta on Facebook here.  In fact, I’d encourage checking out her page- she does an excellent job or marketing her book from her page, and I’d encourage everyone to learn from her.

Author: Beth R - Categories: books and movies,faith and values,marketing,writing

I attended Renee Kelley’s first book signing for The Raising of a Prophet on Saturday night, and from everything I could see, it was a big success!

Renee did a lot of planning to get the book signing off to a great start. First, she looked at several different locations before choosing Village Coffee, a great little coffee shop in Troy.  The staff there are always friendly and helpful, and it has a very relaxed, inviting atmosphere. She chose a place that locals already are familiar with, and like to visit- by bringing her friends in, hopefully she’s introduced some new customers to the coffee shop, and also got some new readers for her book by meeting new folks there.

She set her hours from 5 to 8, so that folks could stop in early on their way home from work and pick up their copy, along with some great brew, and head home; or they were welcome to come visit with friends while they warmed up, as several of us did.

Her table was set in the back – several stacks of books were already set out; she had someone ready to make change, and another person was giving receipts, and a third person was registering all the visitors for the door prizes that were given out through the night. (I did notice they used a trick I learned from watching Mad Men – the stacks of books were uneven, so it looked like folks had already been buying.)

She had invited a couple of young people to come play guitar and sing softly – the music was wonderful without being overwhelming to conversations.

Renee also made a point of visiting with everyone who came in- no high-pressures sales talk, just checking in to see if everyone was comfortable. She made introductions where necessary, and she signed each book with a personal note.  She made the rounds of the room, rather than sitting at her table and waiting for folks to come to her.

Renee got several pics during the night; she’ll be submitting them to her local paper, as well as a story.

Renee’s got some great ideas to market her book (and herself!); it’s a process that never stops, but she’s doing a great job.

Most small businesses have a very limited amount they can invest in advertising, so it’s very important to make each dollar count.

There are so many places to advertise, it can be an overwhelming job just choosing which will work best for you.  Here’s just a few of the places you can purchase advertising spots:

  • radio
  • television
  • magazines
  • newspapers
  • Social media, like Facebook, Google, Yahoo!

Before deciding where to advertise, you need to decide who your targeted audience is, and then decide how to best reach them.  Then, start building your ideas for advertising.  And don’t be afraid to think outside the box. I bought a book several years ago on a whim and it really made a difference in how I look at marketing – it’s called “Off the Wall Marketing Ideas” by Nancy Michaels and Debbi J Karpowicz.  It gave me some great ideas to share with customers who needed something different to use; and it sparked my own “off the wall ideas” as well, which is really what the book is intended to do.

One example that I loved was regarding Ben & Jerry ice cream. They wanted to have their advertising banners in places that were restricted to political advertising only- so they made up banners that said “Ben & Jerry for President!”

Check this book out – I think you’ll see the small price you pay will help you spend your advertising money more wisely and efficiently.

I’ve noticed a lot of people now have Facebook pages for their business, book, ministry, cause or community. It’s a great way to get the word about whatever you’re trying to market.

But it’s like lots of other things- it doesn’t do any good if you don’t use it effectively.

I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on marketing on Facebook, but I have noticed some good (and not-so-good) things going on that I’d like to point out.

  • Always, always provide a direct link – if you are asking people to buy your book on Amazon, don’t just say “my book can be found on Amazon”. I was telling someone the other day that I love shopping on Amazon, so if I’m looking for your book and I just hit the front page, I’m going to be looking at camera supplies or sheet sets or a new kind of measuring cup before I know it (because the front page has links that distracted me), and I will have forgotten all about your book. But if you give me a link to go directly to the page, I’ll drop it in my cart before I head off to browse. Don’t give anyone the chance to forget what they’re there for- give them a link!
  • Offer something of value to your viewers. Every post doesn’t need to be about your what you’re selling; you can post occasionally about it, but you also need to give them posts that have value in other ways. For example, if you want to help people be more organized, maybe twice a week you post links to articles:  how about one giving me 5 tips on decluttering my house and office, or a better way to store my office supplies so they’re easier to maintain,  or maybe a new kind of calendar/organizer? I used a printed organized for years and I was always on the lookout for the perfect one.
  • If it fits your personality, share some humor or encouragement occasionally…I have a very quirky sense of humor, so I occasionally share things that make me smile and I hope it does the same with my followers. I also like to find quotes about writing that will help my followers be encouraged in their writing.
  • Finally- I have found that both on my blog and on Facebook, people are more likely to notice a post if it has an image of some kind on it. You don’t have to do it every time, but use images enough so that people continue to watch for your page’s posts.

I hope this helps! Now get busy!

************

P.S. Just a quick note: no matter which social media sites you use, please consider saving your posts and articles offline. Just as Myspace was knocked from the top of the hill by Facebook, Facebook will go the same way at some point – and you don’t want to lose all the work you’ve done. Either something local like a thumb drive, or somewhere online, like Dropbox is a good idea.

Author: Beth R - Categories: getting things done,marketing

While it is a good investment to hire someone to help build your brand, if you’re fairly creative and have the time to work on it regularly, you may be able to accomplish this yourself.

We’ve talked about business cards- it’s very important to have a quick way to hand out your contact information to prospective customers, vendors and associates, and that little printed piece of cardstock can be gold. They’re easy to store in your wallet or a pocket and they’re an inexpensive investment if you.

But what are some other ways to market yourself? Some people like to use Twitter, Facebook pages, Google+ and other social media sites to get themselves noticed. The important thing to remember when you’re going to use any of these sites is consistency; if you’re going to use any of them, make sure you update regularly. (and please remember to be kind to your followers – don’t make every post a selling post – make sure you’re providing humor, encouragement or something useful).

And don’t forget one of the most important marketing, but easiest to ignore- face to face with other people. When you’re in a conversation, and you know you can help meet a challenge someone has, speak up. You don’t have to be bragging on yourself – offer your assistance. They can either say yes or no- but either way, you’ve reminded them that can provide a service they can use.

Three “B”s

18/07/16

BUSINESS CARDS

Every woman NEEDS business cards- I don’t care who you are or what you do. We as women naturally network with other women. You might not think that’s what you’re doing, but think about this. When you’re talking to one of your friends in the grocery store and she says her friend is looking for a good babysitter, lawn service or hair dresser, what do you do? You say, oh my friend  Jane knows someone who can help you. You give her Jane’s number, or better yet, you message Jane for information and give it to your friend. THAT is networking. Plain and simple. And we women are great at it.  Because God made us want to help others.

There are probably several places where you live who can help you with business cards and other business literature (fliers, letterhead, posters, etc).  Since there are no print shops where I live  I normally use VistaPrint for my business cards and some other printing.

One thing about business cards- there are LOTS of bad ones out there. Here are some things to avoid:

  • Way too much information – stick with the basics- business name, your name (those should be the biggest words on the card), phone, email and website – maybe a tag line
  • Text that’s too small, hard to read
  • Confusing images, colors or font choices- if you’re a children’s birthday party planner, obviously you’d consider fun pastels or bold primary colors and a font that suggests fun. But a divorce lawyer needs to stick with neutral or muted colors and a font that suggests professionalism, knowledge and discretion.
  • Non-standard sizes- 3.5 x 2 inches is the industry standard- that size fits in card holders in your wallet or organizer, or a desktop holder.

Let your business card be unique if at all possible- choose something that will make your card stand out. You may have to start out with standard cards for now, but try to pick something that will help your card be a keeper.

How many of you remember when tag numbers had a meaning? Each county in Alabama was assigned a number- I always knew when I saw a 9 tag anywhere that I was seeing home folks. Local politicians used to have all the tag numbers listed on the back of their cards- they knew folks would keep them.

Here are some unique card ideas that might help spark some ideas. (Business Card Fails)

One last thing about cards; if you’re at a networking event, instead of trying to push your cards on others, try ‘pulling’ some cards. Talk to the other guests- find out what they do and how they help people. Ask for 2 or 3 cards. If you need to make notes to help you remember what the person does, jot those down on the back of one card. Save the other two for someone who will need their services- and jot your name down on the back. That way when you connect two people and one says ‘how did you hear about me?’ your name is mentioned. It makes my day when someone talks to me about their book, and they say so-and-so told me to talk to you. That word of mouth advertising cannot be beat.

 

YOUR BLOG

If you have a ministry of any kind, or a business, or a hobby, a blog will benefit you and those you work with. If you’re not familiar with blogs, think of them as an online journal or diary. If you can type in Word, Wordperfect,  or Wordpad you’re ready to work in a blog.

Facebook is a great way to get your name and information out there- I use it; but I also use a blog. My blog is where I really talk about what matters to me; when I write something I share it on my Facebook page, both business and personal.  Many folks  still are not on Facebook and I really believe it will one day go the same way MySpace did. Something else will come along that will be bigger and better and newer. If you’ve got a blog, you can save all your important posts from Facebook there, and then when and if you move to something else, you’ve got all that work ready to share with new people. You have several blogging platforms to choose from, and here are several sites that will host your blog for free, with the understanding that there will be ads on your blog. If that isn’t how you want to do things, you can always purchase a hosting package and have your blog there- then you control everything that goes on your blog, including ads that you can earn money from.

If you’re interested in setting one up, I’d suggest WordPress.com – WordPress is an excellent blogging platform, they will host yours for free and online help is available. You’ll have several nice choices for how your blog looks, and if you get ready to move to your own hosting later on, it’s a fairly quick process.

 

YOUR BRAND

When I say this, I don’t necessarily mean your name… I’m talking about your “presence’….

Let me give you an example. My husband and I love to take trips on our motorcycles. We’ve ridden them as far away as Pigeon Forge and we love it. While we’re riding, obviously we have to stop for gas more often than when we travel by car.

And when we stop for gas, generally we need to get a soft drink, some water or Gatorade. Now I want you to imagine your favorite soft drink or water brand. You immediately know what that bottle looks like, and you know what case it’s going to be in. If it’s in a Coke case, you look for that deep red with a white ‘swoosh’ through it. Pepsi machines have the bright blue and red in a circle, with white accents.  No matter where you go, you can pick those machines out immediately. That is their identity or presence – their brand.

Now imagine trying to find your favorite drink, if every store you go in has the machines marked differently.  It makes it hard for you, right?

Now,  put that same idea on YOU.  You may have a signature color you like to wear. You may have a certain designer you like to wear. You may have something else that is YOU. For my client, Ms Dimple, I immediately think of roses when I think of her. She uses flowers, especially roses, in a lot of her messages. Her novel has a bouquet of roses on the front. She uses roses.

So, while you’re coming up with ideas for your business card, your blog, your website, your business literature, fliers and posters- you need to use that thing that signifies you. And you need to have consistency across the board. Don’t use one font in bright green on your card, and then another font in purple on your blog. You want to train people to recognize your signature, your identity when they see it. Everything needs to look like it belongs together. It doesn’t have to be identical, but it needs to match.

When you see golden arches, do you recognize McDonald’s? Of course you do – whether it’s a big sign over the store, printed on a bag or cup, or on someone’s t-shirt.

I know God has bigger plans for you than He does for McDonald’s. Use  the ideas He gives you to create your presence, your signature, your identity. And start putting it out there for folks to recognize.

Every one of us has something to sell – sometimes it’s a printed or e-book; sometimes you’re part of a multi-level company that sells health products; or maybe you sell items that you’ve hand made- one of a kind items that are unique to you.

But no matter kind of items you are selling, the main thing you’re selling is YOU.

Before you can sell someone your latest product, you’ve got to sell yourself to them. There are thousands upon thousands of people out there, trying to get what they’ve got in front of you so you’ll buy into their dream.  So what have you got that’s going to get someone to pay attention to you?

You need to answer only three questions to get started:

  • who is your prospective buyer?
  • why should they want your product (and you)?
  • what can you do to reach them, grab their attention and most importantly of all, gain their trust to they want to believe what you tell them?

Once you answer those questions, you should have the beginning of a marketing plan for your product. If you’re interested in talking to me one on one, contact me for a time we can get together in person or on the phone.

Author: Beth R - Categories: marketing

I guess I’m on a tear again. Over the last several weeks I’ve had to deal with several companies’ customer service departments, and I use that term very loosely. Let me explain.

We have our phone, internet and cable service as a bundle, so we deal with one company for all three products. We decided we wanted to make some changes: downgrade our cable but move up a level in our internet speed. Since Randy delivers mail, he can’t always make calls like this, so I called. After I explained what we wanted to do to the representative, she very quickly told me she’d be glad to upgrade our internet, but if we wanted to change to a lower package on our cable, my husband would have to call, because I wasn’t listed on the account to make changes… duh! So let me get this straight- you’ll take my word that we want to upgrade, but not to downgrade? How dumb is that? So Randy had to call and get things changed, and to add me to the account (this is the second or third time he’s called to add me, by the way).

Then several weeks ago, Randy’s bike messed up, so he found a place online that sells used parts and ordered what he needed. He told them we were headed to Thunder Beach so he paid extra to have it shipped quickly. The part online looked exactly like his, same numbers, etc. It got here all right, but it was the wrong part, but Randy didn’t know that until he’d tried to install it on his bike. He had to remove a couple of tabs so it would go in to the slot made for it. He and I both figured that since they sent it, it would work on his bike. It didn’t. We ended up using a friend’s bike to go to TB, and when we got home, Randy started working on getting things resolved. He emailed them to let them know they’d sent the wrong part, and that he’d taken the tabs off. ‘No problem’ the guy answered, just send it back and we’ll make it good. Randy sent it back with delivery confirmation, and they got it within 3 or 4 days of him mailing it. About a week later, the guy decided to email Randy and let him know that the tabs were removed (!) and that they couldn’t accept it. He said if he’d known Randy had done this, he wouldn’t have told him to send it back. Randy had in fact told them in one email that if they couldn’t take it back because of the tabs, he understood; they just needed to let him know one way or the other.
I understand anybody can make a mistake, but we’re still working on getting things straightened out with them. I finally called this week to see what was going on; when I told the person who answered who I was and what I wanted he recognized the name and started in fussing at me. He tried to say that Randy hadn’t told them he’d removed the tab- I pointed out I was looking at the emails that were sent, and yes, they were told before it was returned. Then he told me how big a company they were and how they were so busy they didn’t have time to answer emails quickly. Apparently they’re so big they only have one person to answer phones, emails and fetch parts… he was one of the rudest people I’ve ever talked to. I will steer clear of them in the future, and I’d suggest you do too- the name is Drum Hill Cycles. They’re mailing the part back, but I don’t expect to see it any time soon.And then to top things off today- a friend who has trouble hearing on the phone asked me to call and find out when his billing cycle ends. I called, explained what I wanted and gave them all the information I had – their response? If he would call and verify that they could give me information, they’d be glad to talk to me. I said I understand, but if he could call to verify it’s OK for you to talk to me, then he could get the information himself. He can’t hear well enough to understand you, so how is he going to tell you it’s OK? Talk about Catch- 22.
I just wonder at what point did we all get to be nimrods? Does good customer service not mean anything anymore? Are folks here in the south the only ones with enough gumption to be polite and kind to be people? The guy at the parts place – he could just as easily say “ma’am, I’m so sorry, but there’s not anything we can do to help you. We can’t take the part back – we’ll have to ship it out to you.” A little kindness would have gone a long way to make me feel better, and I would have considered using them again. I guess that’s what we get for shopping outside the southern states.

Author: Beth R - Categories: faith and values,marketing,time and money
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