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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!

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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.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

One of my favorite scenes in the movie Jewel of the Nile is where Danny DeVito is so intent on getting the treasure that he walks across the fiery coals without even realizing it.

His focus wasn’t on what was going on- it was on the final prize.

If you’re not focusing on your outcome, you may get distracted. Don’t get burned!

Author: Beth R - Categories: getting things done

A New Life Phase

25/08/16

This week municipal elections were held in our county. Some of you may know that I was serving as acting mayor since December 2014. For ten years before that I had served on the town council. I had decided to run again, but my opponent beat me. (I don’t have any bad feelings towards him, but boy that’s hard to write!)

So, in November, I’ll turn in my keys and walk out the door of town hall for the last time as an official. It’s going to be bittersweet; I’ll still see the workers in town and I’ll still need to go from time to time, but I won’t have any duties to fulfill.  But til then, I’m going to continue to do my best to make sure things run as smoothly as possible- when the new mayor steps in, I want him to find things in order.

I know God has big plans for me- He’s already working things out. As you know, Randy and I have our own ministry, Three in One, which reaches out to the invisible people. We’ve got visions of where we want this ministry to go, and we’ve prayed over it, but above all else, we want God’s will to be done.

And of course, I will still be helping people get their books published, their websites built and any other projects they come up with.I’m excited about what the future holds.

As scary as it can sound sometimes, I’m looking forward to the next season of my life and what it holds for me!

Author: Beth R - Categories: getting things done,Living an intentional life

Google Calendar

22/08/16

In the past couple weeks, I’ve talked about using Todoist for my tasks list and my Google calendar for appointments;  I love the ease and convenience of both apps. Like I said last week, I can’t imagine going back to a printed calendar. You can even set the calendar to ‘pop up’ a notice ahead of time so you won’t forget, or to give you enough time to leave.

A strange thing happened yesterday- a notice popped up that I didn’t know anything about; I do have my calendar shared with my husband, since I try to add everything to it- his days off, his appointments, upcoming bike or family events, etc. This gives him the ability to see what we have going on in our ministry, business or personal life before scheduling something.  He is able to add or change things too, but normally he doesn’t do that.

So when this notice popped up, I couldn’t figure out what it was; when I read it, I knew it was a spam event. I didn’t know how it got on there, though, so I checked out Google calendar settings- and this is what I found.

Click on the ‘cog wheel’ in the upper right corner of the calendar; then click ‘settings’.  About 7 items down, it says “Events from Gmail” and a choice to add automatically is ticked by default.  Un-tick that box on all accounts attached to the calendar, and that should correct things.

When you were a kid, did anyone ever ask you, “What will you be when you grow up?” I’m sure most every child has answered that question.

When I was young, all I wanted to be was a teacher; I’m not sure I ever thought about what I wanted to teach, but I knew I wanted to stand before a class and help people learn.

Then as an adult, I decided to finally buckle down and get my degree teaching English and literature.  My thought was that because I love to read, I would love reading students’ work and helping them better their craft.

Life threw a few more curves and that possibility faded.

But then I started working from home. Sometimes I didn’t even realize I was still working towards that childhood dream, but it was always in front of me.  And all the things I thought I wanted to become as a child are now what I get to do every day! Not the way I thought it would- me sitting behind a desk with a room full of kids to whom I’m teaching grammar, math, science and spelling… but as someone who works one on one with clients to help them be the best they can be. Reading their stories and making sure grammar, spelling and sentence structure is correct, all while making sure their voice is still heard – which sometimes means using “bad” grammar, spelling and sentence structure. Because we don’t always speak correctly 100% of the time – sometimes we southrons drop our “g”s, or say “ya’ll” or “ain’t” or “gonna”;  the author’s voice is more important than being 100% correct.

I’m exactly what I wanted to be when I was growing up- how cool is that? I had to take the long way ’round, and it doesn’t look like what I expected, but I’m living the life I always wanted.

So…. what do you want to be when you grow up? And what are you doing to make that happen? Live life specifically and intentionally- and be what you want to be.

Writing Club

27/07/16

feather_quill_pen_by_awolfillustrations-d5509xl

I’ve been talking to several people who belong to writing clubs. From everything they say, it is a great way to stay in touch with others who love to write. Each person helps others to keep writing by encouraging them, and it’s a great way to hold yourself accountable.

In the past, I’ve tried starting a writer’s group that met online, but for whatever reasons, it didn’t work out. I also tried having a group that met once a month, but there wasn’t enough interest within the group I was talking to.

After these false starts, I’m trying again, but this time, I’m going to work in a different area.  I’m going to be working with some of my friends in Montgomery to start a club for writers. I’m going to be using some guidelines and suggestions from other clubs to help us get the right mix of people who are dedicated to writing. We’d love to have you join us if you’re interested; contact me if you want more information!

(the feather pen illustration is the work of A Wolf Illustrations)

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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.

For the past 25 years or so, I’ve used some type of paper planner; for the most part I’ve used Franklin Covey products, but I’ve also used other brands as well. For the past year or so, I actually had created and printed my own planner pages – I loved the freedom of having the exact pages I needed, but because I’m involved in so many things my planner had become cumbersome. Classic sized pages in a 2 inch binder – LOTS of pages. But I used it because I needed the space.

I love technology, but I haven’t been able to find an app or program that worked to suit me. But a few weeks ago, I decided it was absolutely the right time to switch completely over from paper to technology. I have a smart phone that I love using, and I have a tablet, and of course computers.

I started doing some research – I knew I wanted something that both worked from my PC and an app. I didn’t want a monthly subscription fee; I don’t mind paying a fee but it had to be reasonable. I found a couple of apps that I liked to start with, but after a few days I found drawbacks that just didn’t work for me. I found Todoist a few months ago, but it didn’t seem to click with me at the time. But I decided to try it one more time and that time it worked!

Some of the things I really like:

  • You can set some tasks to a certain location- so when you’re in Office Depot for example, it reminds you to pick up a box of paper or some ink cartridges (obviously you have to have your phone set to know where you are)
  • there are no limit to the number of projects you can have – I have one project for each customer I work with, and then tasks underneath for jobs for each customer
  • you can set tasks with specific dates or no dates at all- what I prefer to do is to list all tasks for a specific job and then date the first task to be done for today; the ones that are required to be done today are flagged red; once I get those done, I work on the others; any I don’t complete today are moved to later in the week. As I complete one task for a job, I add the next task to the ‘dated’ list; I always know where I am on any project.
  • as I mark tasks done, they are moved to the ‘done’ list, but I can go back and look at them later. if I do things during the day that pop up that weren’t on my list, I add them and then tick them off.
  • another cool thing is that it keeps ‘score’ on how many tasks I’ve done. you earn badges for levels. it’s just a little extra incentive to get it done!

So for less than a year’s worth of dated pages for my printed planner, I have a very nice task list that I can access anywhere – from my phone, laptop or tablet.

I was already using my Google contacts, but I started using my Google calendar for appointments and events. I also have my calendar shared so my husband can see what’s coming up from his phone too.

Those who know me well know how much I like writing things down, so I do still carry a pad and pen to jot notes. But now I’m moving them over to Google docs, or Todoist or my calendar.

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