Friday, November 13, 2009

Do you have a marketing plan -- or just spend money 'til it's gone?

Just yesterday I was asked by a representative of a non-profit organization if I would suggest an ad in The Guide To Health, Wellness & Creative Living in Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.

Since I founded the publication back in 2002, I can quickly say, Of course!”

However, the ownership has passed on to another editor. I don’t have a dime to make from this recommendation – just the opportunity to encourage and support small businesses. I’m advertising in The Guide and I would encourage any practitioner, business or non-profit organization to get a space there if they want to reach a certain kind of person.

Here’s why:

The Guide has a shelf life of one year. Unlike the daily newspaper, which may be lining the bird cage tomorrow, or the radio ad that disappears as the words are said into the air, The Guide is designed to be a resource for the community for a considerable time.

People, both professionals and others, save the publication for a year or longer and will refer to it regularly. Many health practitioners and others will keep it in their waiting rooms and offices for visitors to read. Just today I talked with a massage therapist in Burlington who has kept The Guide for every year that it has been published.

The geographic span covers a specific target area – southeastern Wisconsin and a bit of northern Illinois, which includes Racine and Kenosha County, plus south Milwaukee. Jamie Jacobs, the current editor, is really making an effort to get it into the county, including Burlington, East Troy and other related places west of the Interstate where there is an ever-growing movement regarding these alternatives.

There is an important online component. This means that the online version of The Guide is up 24-7 for anyone who is searching for such information. Online is now the way to go, as teens and young adults, and even mid-age adults are going directly to the web when they need a phone number, address or community resource.

People most likely to pick up, read, share, save and enjoy The Guide are people who are looking for alternatives. If you offer a service or product that is targeted to people who delightfully step outside of the mainstream, this is a great venue to reach those alternative-seeking people.

It's amazingly affordable. For $200 a year – the cost of a nice-sized visible ad – your ad prorated to less than $1 per day. My calculator says it is 54.7 cents per day, actually, even better. It's just 2 cents per copy for the advertiser for a run of 10,000 copies; and just 1.3 cents per copy for 15,000 copies.

Now, having said all that,  here are a few considerations for your decision-making.

First of all, how much money is budgeted for marketing your business?

What’s your rationale for where you’re putting your advertising funds? Do you support the advertiser because he’s your friend, or your child attends the school and you want to support the basketball program, or because the ad is cheap?

What’s the ROI – the expected return for these investments? Do you track how people  find you and then convert to buying clients or customers?

Do you have a marketing plan? (Keep in mind that advertising is just one component of marketing, the latter of which means brining your product to market.) Or do you just spend money on marketing and advertising until the budgeted funds are done for the year?

If you have a marketing plan, when was the last time it was reviewed or revised? Is it revised according to your updated services or what your customers or clients tell you they like or want about your business offerings?

How comprehensive is your marketing plan? For instance, what components does it have --signage, web, press releases, special events, social media -- and how do they interrelate with each other?

What is the balance between “free” publicity and “paid” publicity and how do they interact with other market-building activities?

Do you use the same ad every year or do you tweak it according to customer feedback, the state of the economy and other variables?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Building a hobby or building a business?

Are you running a hobby or running a business?

This is a very important question for the beginning entrepreneur. It’s also a good question for the business person who seems constantly in motion but isn’t experiencing any significant results with clients and, therefore, income.

I like the video with commenting on this very topic with Allison Babb who offers several cogent comments to help people answer this question.

I’ve seen the similar behaviors in my coaching practice – people who sincerely have good intentions about starting a business and good things to offer. However, they   find themselves discouraged when their plans seem to lead to nowhere.

Research. Make sure there is a real need for your business service or product. Determine your niche market, how you will deliver your message to your niche market, how your competition presents itself and how you will stay financially afloat as you pursue your dream.

Focus. Focus. Focus. Do you offer so many services – dog walking, piano lessons, cupcake baking and car detailing – that people are confused about exactly what you do? Focus on one service or product – or products that services that are clearly related – will ease your marketing activities and create a clear message for your niche market. This is a very challenging task for creative people who constantly see so many possibilities in their world.

Be able to commit to building your business, financially, emotionally, spiritually and practically. Conventional wisdom says that it takes about two years to reap significant profits with a full-fledged business. This means that you will need to have finances, moral support, information and a clear but flexible business plan to follow. Of course, if you have a spectacular niche, absolutely no competition and an amazing business plan, you can find pay dirt a lot sooner.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More on the basics of social media marketing

A standing room only crowd of business people, representatives of non-profit organizations and others showed on Wednesday for the second installment of the Small Business Development Center’s program on social media marketing titled “Getting It Set Up – the Nuts and Bolts of Social Media Networking.”

Social networking sites increasingly being utilized as an inexpensive marketing tool by small and large businesses. The Chicago Tribune just reported how diverse businesses like cupcake bakeries, jewelers and others are developing this trend.

Wednesday’s tips, which especially focused on Facebook, included:
  • Your personal Facebook page allows you to make a business page as well.
  • Determine how your Facebook page, whether personal or business, fits into your overall business plan.
  • Decide how you will attract your niche market to your business page.
  • Create a name for your business page; the direct name of your business is best rather than being cutesy.
  • Have a logo or picture ready to upload that represents your business.
  • Use your current contact information.
  • Build up the page until you are ready to go “live” online.
  • Identify group pages -- different from personal pages -- that you can join to post and spread the word about your business.
See presenter Raymond Wiggins' snazzy presentation here. Final SBDC class  at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside info here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A new take on how businesses are evolving

This just in from TED, one of my current favorite sites. John Gerzema says there's an upside to the recent financial crisis -- the opportunity for positive change. He identifies four major cultural shifts driving new consumer behavior and shows how businesses are evolving to connect with thoughtful spending.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A post script on social networking

A post script on social networking and a quote I like:

"When an organization becomes faceless, it loses its authenticity."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Navigating the mysteries of social media networking

My younger cousin Charlie, who's 14, knows how to use social media for fun. He posts on Facebook to tell me and his some 70 friends when he's tired, hungry or enjoying his breakfast of sausage, onions and peppers.

I -- like many of you -- use it for business. I'm one of many people who believe that the possibilities for social media and business are mind-boggling, especially since the next generation is all about social media. In addition to Facebook, there's LinkedIn and Twitter as major players and dozens more minor players.

A new report shows that LinkedIn, a kind of an online resume, is growing rapidly. See Tanette Johhnson-Elie's commentary for figures and check out this YouTube video reminding us that by 2010 Generation Y will outnumber Baby Boomers and 96 percent of them have joined a social media group:

However, the phenomenon is still so bran-spankin' new that most of us are still experimenting with its possibilities and what's the best return on investment.

The Small Business Development Center Network at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside sponsored the first of three classes Wednesday on social media and its amazing potential value to business.

Here are the highlights:

Social media is geared for encouraging conversation and building business relationships rather than actual direct selling.

Know your goals on why you are using social media, what you hope to accomplish and how it is part of your business plan.

Decide how you will commit time and resources to social media.

Ask who is your audience and what social media platform is the best route to your audience.

Determine what added value can you give your network that people can't get anywhere else.

Meanwhile, find me on Twitter.

Become a fan at Lake House's Facebook page.

There are two more programs in this three-part series for SBDC. For more info, click this link.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where to list your business for free

Happy day! I love discovering Web sites where I can add my professional information for free.

There are hundreds of sites out there, and I'm compiling a big list for blog readers. For now, check out this one:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another take on Internet marketing

Whether you’re new to Internet marketing or a seasoned veteran, there will always be new techniques to learn … and new pitfalls to avoid.

So says Kelly Watson, one of my favorite marketing colleagues who runs a spiffy Web site especially geared to women entrepreneurs. She is based in my home town of Lancaster, Pa., and works this niche with great ideas and commentary. She also offers a thoughtful free report titled Do YOU Make These Mistakes in Internet Marketing?

She also has several pod casts of interviews about creativity and marketing – my personal fave.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Alternative health professionals share marketing favorites

I had a great evening at Lake House on Tuesday night, networking with a diverse group of alternative health professionals representing eight different specialties. Everyone had a marketing tip -- or two or three -- to share.

Now I'm sharing with you:

Use both sides of your business card -- the front for the basic contact information and the back to offer a coupon, free gift, special offer or even a silly joke.

Collaborate with other professionals to create new projects, programs and services. You can share your networks and the work doesn't feel as daunting.

Get the name of your Web site on search engines. Many search engines, including Google, have a business feature at the bottom of the page. Let's say I would do a search "Racine psychotherapy" to see what comes up and where the name of my business is located on the results list. When the results arrive, scroll to the bottom of the screen to find a link that says "add a result." This is where you add your business link. I might also do a second search for "Racine coaching" and do the same.

Put your name and the name of your business in Google "alerts" -- link here -- to learn how your name is being used online. You can also use the feature to keep tabs on trends and news in your profession.

Research Web sites where you can list your business information for free or very low cost in just minutes (this will be the topic of an upcoming blog post!)

Research Web making and Web hosting options thoroughly so you can make the decision that's best for your business needs.

Introduce yourself with the health benefits first, title second. For instance, rather than say, "I'm a yoga instructor," say, "I help people relieve stress, improve concentration and feel more energy." Add later that you're a yoga instructor -- people may have mistaken ideas about what a yoga instructor does.

Consider making a video or DVD for your client, your Web site or for posting on YouTube.

Be acquainted with the local and regional media where you may have the opportunity to get free publicity. Advertise in the venue where you are most likely to connect with your target client; The Guide To Health, Wellness & Creative Living is one example of a publication that has high readership for those interested in alternative health.

We agreed that not every idea works well for every professional and profession, but it was energizing to share on so many levels.

What if I don't speak your lingo?

Just the other day, I was asked to review the beginnings of a business plan for a new online "product" for people like me -- psychotherapists, coaches and others who might have need for online assistance. The project -- which I can't disclose -- is fascinating. But I was stymied by the prose that was high on tech and low on touch.

My client gave me the opportunity to share my top-of-the-brain response. In short, if you're writing to prospects who don't know your specialty, stay away from the lingo. And:

It seems like your product may have benefit for me -- but there's too much else in front of me to weed through your information to determine if this is a must-buy item. I get all kinds of offers about all kinds of seminars, books, courses, classes and products on a daily basis. I need really compelling info to identify a high level of value to me and my business.

I am not an information technology person -- so lingo and phrases like intranet, extranet, field relevant, infrastructure, etc., zip right over my head. I want to know what this product will do for me, how it will be different than and/or better than the free and/or simple products I already use online.

I need lively and compelling language, both in the verbiage and in the name of the business itself. I need to get genuinely excited about your product.

I like short paragraphs. Some bullet points will help, too, so I can get a quick idea about what you're about.

Help me identify the cost we're talking about -- at least in a ballpark. I know what my budget is and what I can afford and can't afford. I need to know if this is product even reasonable for me to consider and how it matches with online resources that I already use or purchase.

Who are you? What kind of track record do you have? How can I trust you, especially when I don't speak the lingo?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Trust your creative resources for whole person marketing

“Thinking out of the box” has become an overused phrase for identifying and promoting creativity.

However, helping and healing professionals with the whole person perspective know that we are more than thinkers. We also see, feel, move, touch, talk, laugh, argue and gather. Approaching creativity in a multi-dimensional way gives us greater opportunity to advance our businesses in authentic ways.

Self presentation — which most people call marketing — can be a growth-producing adventure rather than a dreaded chore when it is approached with creativity and imagination.

Adding the creative perspective helps us to move away from the hurried and pressured standard of competition and view the world as a place of unlimited possibilities. Energy is not focused on battling the other but rather on bringing our special skills forward.

With trust in our own resources, we can respect the talents that our colleagues bring and know that we also have much to offer from our unique perspectives. With the belief that “no one can take what I have,” we even may want to work collaboratively with the people we may have once viewed as competitors.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Your Web site, the centerpiece of today's marketing

Several of my coaching clients have been discussing Web site questions with me. Funny, because I’m in the process of revising my own Web site, and I’ve been in deep research with various options.

I’ve been using the Web-making tool, included in my Microsoft suite, to make perfectly serviceable Web site.


When I’m honest, it doesn’t have the sparkle that complements my personal growth and coaching work.

A Web site should be considered the centerpiece of marketing. Other marketing efforts – both personal and print – should refer your prospects to the site. Let’s face it, in our modern world, printed materials age quickly. They’re unhandy to distribute fully and quickly. A Web site can be instantly updated and kept current with less effort, and available 24-7.

My research is bringing up several choices, all of which offer pretty cool templates:



There's even a free option, Microsoft's Office Live.

Have a favorite? I’ll check it out and report back here.

Is your type size reader friendly?

I just received an e-mail newsletter pointing to a blog about information has high interest for me, and I’m likely to refer this information to clients, colleagues and others.

The problem?

Part of the blog shows up in teeny-tiny type. REALLY teeny-tiny type. Even with the full page option, plus the option to bump up the type size to 150 percent – two additional key strokes that add to the inconvenience – the type was still small for my middle-aged eyes.

Your promotional materials should be easy to read. That includes type size as well as other details, such as short paragraphs. With online marketing, we are marketing to people who spend a good amount of time online and need reader friendly materials. Remember, your readers may have vision problems, color blindness or easily distracted.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Spreading ideas, a free book thanks to Seth Godin

Seth Godin, super marketing guru, created “Unleashing The Ideavirus,” the number-one downloaded book in history. Rather than marketing at the consumer, Godin's approach seeks to maximize the spread of information from customer to customer.

You can buy it from for $14 or you can download it for free and read it right now.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Next step in social media? Video.

Michael Todd says video is the key to relationship building. I'm not there yet, but this is the direction that we are going...

After creativity, we need to put feet on the dream

When you walk into my office, you’ll find shelves of toys, balls, sponges, stuffed animals and art materials – plus a basket of colorful scarves and lengths of cloth – and other fun stuff.

These are the tools that help me work my magic when I am coaching clients. The props, matched with specific imagination activities, nudge the right brain to announce its creativity. We find ourselves imagining exciting new possibilities to stimulate people’s businesses and enhance joy in their lives.


Creativity in itself does not make changes. We still need the left brain, the part of the brain that is orderly and logical, to put dream into action. Or, as my friend Carolyn likes to say, “Put feet on the dream.”

How are you putting feet on your dream?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What can yoga teach us about the social web? Gwen Bell has ideas.

Gwen Bell, a yoga instructor and social media expert, has a great blog article titled What Can Yoga Teach Us About the Social Web? I love her creativity, and I'm following her on Twitter.

Opportunity to advertise to health-seeking people

For those health professionals living and working in Southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, this just in:

The Guide To Health, Wellness & Creative Living in Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois is now taking ads for 2010, giving you the exclusive opportunity to communicate to thousands of health-seeking people with your services, products and ideas in a cost-effective, professional and attractive resource guide and magazine.

I started this annual directory in 2002, and Jamie Jacobs took over last year, continuing to build this resource and adding Web options. She's done a fabulous job to expand the publication, making it even more delicious and indispensable.

There’s a big incentive for savings: a discount for those who reserve, submit and pay for their ads by Sept. 30, 2009. See last year’s issue here.

What makes a really good blog

Before I was a psychotherapist and coach, I was a journalist. I've been blogging for a couple of years and researching lots of options, of which there are many on the Internet.

There's Blogger, Wordpress, Typepad, Live Journal, the last of which has a book-making option, and others, including the mini-blog known as Twitter. Through the years, I've been collecting "best practices" on blogs plus lots of articles. Here's a recent post from Small Business Trends about the plug-ins available at Word Press.

Now, I have a tendency to build empires, as many of you do, and I've been learning to slow down. So, let's start with the absolute basics:
  • Easy to read with dark type on white background.
  • Easy to navigate, with links easy to see and click.
  • 250 words or less.
  • Short paragraphs.
  • Regularly updated.
Here's more from another writer, who's obviously spent lots of time thinking and looking at blogs. The Web Worker Daily has several good points too.

Other than my own blogs, my current favorite easy-reading blog is Good Vibe Blog, published by Jeanette Maw, who calls herself the Good Vibe Coach.

That's 183 words.

Welcome to my newest blog!

This blog has been a long time coming. I have an e-mail coaching newsletter -- sign up at my Web site! -- but I like the idea of an interactive site with people sharing their ideas, insights and questions. Join us!