Monday, May 24, 2010

10 simple Google search tips

Google has become a verb when we're talking about searching the Web.

Here's an informative column from The New York Times with useful tips on how to get more out of your Google searches. It includes info on site specific searching, using the site as a calculator, using "or' when you aren't sure of the right key words and other helpful news.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Make every word count in your blog posts

Everybody's talking about blogging, and my colleague Karen Smith at Professional Networking Women of Racine is working to make her blogging time pay off.

Karen, who is affiliated with Send Out Cards -- a online  service that sends out greeting cards by postal mail for about $1 each -- asked advice about how to make the best blog for her business. Her business focuses on the importance of sending messages of appreciation to family, friends and business contacts. She's taken inspiration from the movement dubbed "appreciation marketing," after the book Appreciation Marketing by Tommy Wyant and Curtis Lewsey.

Like most bloggers, she has a tricky challenge -- to provide interesting content without sounding the sell-sell-sell shriek that is a big turn-off for most people.

Here are my suggestions:

  • Make every word count. Identify who your ideal blog readers are -- they should also be your  ideal customers -- and what they will find valuable.
  • Tell stories about the cards you've created with this online service and how they've been received by recipients.
  • Consider cute, interesting or poignant stories about your clients' experiences – but they should give you permission first to share these stories. This is a great reason to get back to your clients and appreciate their successes and good ideas.
  • Tell stories of your own appreciation of others and how it enhanced personal and business relationships.
  • 10 tips for expressing customer appreciation
Finally, keep posts short. Most people don't have time to read long posts – and they take time to write anyway. Often longer writngs can be broken into two or three posts, which gives you more posts to spread out over time. Your time is valuable too.

At some point you’ll have to evaluate if the blog is getting business or helping you in other way – getting supporters, contacts, encouragement and the like.

Here's Karen's blog, a work in progress. She may appreciate your comments, too.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

When a client wants to "friend" you, what to do?

What happens when a client want to "friend" you on Facebook or some other social media site?

For those professionals, including myself, who follow a professional code of conduct and want to be mindful of questions of dual relationships, this is a good question. Complications go further when many therapy, counseling and helping professionals are using these rapidly growing sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter and other lesser-known social sites for marketing purposes.

Dual relationships are not unethical in themselves but can cause complications. Here are thoughts -- and questions to consider -- about how to respond when clients send "Friend Request" to their psychotherapists from the Zur Institute.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Loaded Web will list your blog, a good thing.

Are you a blogger?

To get the widest coverage, it helps when your blog is listed in directories on the Web. This blog is affliliated with Loaded Web,   the only proper geographic blog directory with no strict categories. Submit at the site for more traffic for you.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The importance of a financial plan as part of your marketing plan

Just this morning, our professional women's networking group was discussing the importance of having a financial plan.

I tuned right into this discussion, because I've been preaching the importance of a marketing plan to my coaching clients -- in particular, a budget for marketing and advertising. So many bright-eyed enthusiastic health professionals think that enthusiasm is enough to drive the business. And, yes, although enthusiasm is expecially important, you'll also need to pay your bills while you build your business.

Even most frugal marketer needs a budget, if only for business cards, a telephone and a notebook to write your plans and ideas. More likely, there are more related expenses: signage, brochures, advertising costs for publications and places that reach your  ideal client and e-mail, a Web domain name and web site. If you offer gift certificates, there will be costs. If you need to rent an office or work space, plan for a minimum of six months of rent payments. You'll also want to consider:

Pricing of products or services
Permits and licenses
Required continuing education
Fees related to networking (membership dues, the cost of meals and coffee, driving and gasoline expenses)
To get you into the planning state -- or to help you get your feet stablized if your business is floundering -- check out the upcoming businss planning series sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Parkside's Small Business Development Center, Kenosha. The 14-week class, presented  with the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation,  is designed to walk you through the business planning process so you'll know what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
"Small Biz Kenosha" will hold its orientation on Thursday, Feb. 4, from 6-8 p.m. at WWBIC's Kenosha office, 600 52nd St., Suite 130. Classes will run Thursdays from 6-9 p.m. from Feb. 11 to April 15. "Small Biz Racine" will hold its orientation on Monday, March 1, from 6-8 p.m. at CATI, 2320 Renaissance Blvd. in Sturtevant. Classes will be held Mondays from 6-9 p.m. from March 8 to June 7.  To register, call (262) 898-7438 or

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How to get your idea to spread, courtesy of Seth Godin

Seth Godin is an ideas-filled entrepreneur and blogger who thinks about the marketing of ideas in the digital age. His newest interest: the tribes we lead. Here, in a lecture from my favorite TED program, he talks about  how to get your idea to spread.  (He asks, "Is it remarkable?") He's talking about creativity!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Resources are everywhere for social media

I'm still getting marketing mileage from the fascinating three-part class that I attended in 2009 courtesy of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside on social media marketing. There are several amazing no-cost options available online. In addition to Facebook, LinkedInTwitter and MySpace, try out:

Google Docs, a free service which allows you to create and edit web-based documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Store documents online and access them from any computer.

Mashable, a massive online guide which helps you learn lots about social media opportunities for connecting and marketing with others.

If your potential clients are using Facebook, then you need to have a Facebook Fan page – it is a great public relations tool. It's free except for time maintaining and updating it. A well-organized person will be able to do such in just minutes per day.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How to disguise sound and have privacy in your healing space

Many helping professionals – psychotherapists, massage therapists, hypnotherapists and others -- struggle to find effective ways of sound-proofing their working spaces when they see clients.

Sound proofing not only protects the confidentiality of your client, it prevents interruptions when you are working with a sensitive issue or want to assist your client to focus or relax deeply.

Many of these ideas have been gathered by Mark R. Young, LCSW, a full-time psychotherapist ( who is also a part-time professional musician in Iron Mountain, Mich. Here is Mark’s list, augmented with a few other tips.

If you are still in the “looking” phase of setting up your practice space, be sure to listen into the sound-proof capabilities of your space, as well as annoying noises from the outside that may interrupt a session where focus, quiet and relaxation is paramount.

Check to see if there is thicker or solid door to your consultation room, versus a hollow one.

Bring a friend with you so you can practice conversing, or even talking loudly, to notice how voices carry from one room to another.

Notice if your space is near a police or fire station or hospital and determine if sirens and noises of emergency vehicles or other outside noise will cause interruptions or discomforts.

Ask if nearby offices or businesses (telemarketing firms, music stores and the like) will be making noise that will interferre with your sessions.

If you are in the construction mode, or have opportunities to remodel:

Add a thicker or extra layer of drywall or some type of insulation between joists. If new construction, you can slightly stagger (double the number of) studs so that the drywall on each side is never attached to the same studs.

Replace your consultation door if it is flimsy or hollow.

Special thick paints are designed reduce sound by up to 30 percent, but can be costly. Learn more at this link; there are many more online resources.

Fabric wallpaper will absorb some sound.

Apply cork tile squares to one or more walls. Cork has a higher air content which helps it absorb sound, and it can be covered with wallpaper if you want a more decorative look.

When you have your space established, here are several ways to reduce noises and prevent eavesdropping:.

Determine where to place the seating in your waiting room so the client or family member who is waiting is sitting farthest from your consultation space. If possible, do not place the seating against the same wall of your consultation room.

If you can make the path between lobby and therapy room staggered or indirect path, it will reduce sound transmission; a separate waiting room is better yet.

Use wall hangings, hanging quilts and rugs, bookcases and other materials which can absorb sound as part of your d├ęcor.

Install an affordable door sweep ($2 or so) which you can get from your favorite home center or hardware store. Apply it so it rubs or sweeps against carpet; see YouTube instructions.

Additional options can cover, blur or disguise the noises that may travel from one space to another.

Mount a small pair of white speakers (under $40) with white wall-mountable brackets and placed them strategically for optimal coverage in your waiting room, near ceiling, pointing down. If your walls are white or another light color, they will be very inconspicuous. You may run the wires up inside a dropped ceiling – which is even easier and less invasive.

Place a portable stereo (glorified boom box) in your waiting area or a nearby area where it can be heard. Make sure this stereo has: CD changer player that plays MP3 files from your iPod or computer; input jack that will accept a cable from your iPod (or equivalent), if you choose to use one; and output jacks that will connect to any speakers you bought if you are not using the originals.

Burn 150 to 175 songs per CDR, and it holds 6 disks. Mark, who is a part-time musician, set it to play ONE disk on RANDOM, REPEAT, so it goes forever, and the listener probably never hears the same song twice. He chooses to only play the ONE disk RANDOM (versus all six disks randomly) to avoid gaps of SILENCE when disks are swapping, where dialog in the session would be more audible. I find this far superior to playing single CDs that only hold 10 to 18 songs typically.

If you use other “white noise makers” or sound conditioners. listen to them first. Some may be unpleasant at best, obnoxious at worst since many are short digital "loops" of recording that play over and over. Marpacs ($50-65) are probably much more even, nicer sound quality that the cheap, but adequate ones are available for $20-40. Google “sound machines” and you’ll also find CDs that offer relaxing sounds.

Start and end your sessions on time.

Have a 10- to 15-minute gap between clients helps avoid next person hearing last person's session.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Another freebie from my favorite Publicity Hound!

Joan Stewart, my favorite Publicity Hound, is offering"The Best of The Publicity Hound's Tips of the Week of 2009" which includes the best 26 tips from last year's newsletters, or tips that generated the most response from readers.

You can download the e-book and if you wish, subscribe to her newsletter too. More than half of the tips in this year's e-book are about social media. (What does that tell you about how much business promotion has changed?)

Online teleconference on ethical marketing and advertising

Here's a free online teleconference on "Marketing and the Ethics of Advertising," offered by CPH and Associates, a company which offers liability insurance to mental health professionals and coaches. Take advantage of this free opportunity to learn about these important topics.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cleaning and updating your data? Don't forget mail lists

Now is the time when many practitioner-entrepreneurs are revamping their address lists, weeding out files and cleaning up mail, e-mail and otherwise.

I just received a question about what database I use for my postal address lists. (Direct mail marketing is still considered a good method of marketing according to Deliver Magazine, published by the U.S. Postal Service.)

For the last several years, I’ve been using a specialized address software system that was easy to use but has finally proved to be unwieldy because I could not send or transfer files to other locations or other computers.

I’m going with a simple Excel spreadsheet where I can input name, address and contact information and add other fields that are pertinent to my needs, such as area of residence, professional discipline and the like. I can use Excel to transfer data from computer to computer, both by attachment and with my flash drive and print out mailing labels as needed.