Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Speak so others can hear you ...

When we're young, we speak very rapidly. However, as we age, the link between what our ears hear and how our brain interprets that sound slows down.

You may notice that some broadcasters, say for the 6:30 p.m. national news, speak more slowly that those at your local TV station. That's because the #1 viewer audience for that national show graduated from school years ago ...

When you use the phone, I encourage you to speak slowly enough that the person on the other end of the phone can understand what you're saying. I was in a Tractor Supply store the other day and watched a girl answer the phone. Watching her lips - and hearing what she had to stay - I still don't know what she said. She spoke so quickly.

So folks, slow down.

MARKETING TIP: Talk to the age of the person - not your own age. That's a difficult lesson to learn if you're less than 40 years old. But try it.

Cold calling pointers

Are you in sales? Every small business owner is. You have a product/service you want to sell. Right? If you're in sales, or are a first-timer, here are some pointers....
  • Research the company you're calling on before you knock on the door. Find out what their products are, who the company decision maker is and their busy season. 
  • Listen. Listen. Listen. It's more important for a potential customer to talk about themselves than it is for you to talk about your product or service. The more they talk, the better they'll feel about you.
  • Never accept NO. That's a standard answer. It can mean "I have no time to talk with you," "I don't know who you are" or "I"m not the person you need to talk with." To me, NO just opens the door to go back.
  • Before you ask for a contract, spend time getting to know your potential client. Sales are made on relationships, not your rate card.
  • Look like you have your act together. I met with two exterminator companies last week. Each one's price, product and procedure was the same. The difference was that one had the paperwork in place for me to sign when he showed up.. No, that wasn't a cold call. But still....
MARKETING TIP: Selling isn't usually something you can do overnight. It takes patience and determination - along with a good handshake, a nice business card and sincerity. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Another personal word

I always say you should post on your blog a minimum of twice a month. However, it's been a rough time since Sept. 2014. I won't go into the details, but since then I've lost both parents. I've learned what "numb" means. So as you see, I've not posted since April.

As I pick up the pieces of my life, I'll be posting again - sharing lots of new information I'm learning to help you promote your small business, festival, town ....


Friday, April 10, 2015

What is the difference between your domain name and the name of your Facebook page?

I recently talked with a small business owner who told me he owned his domain name. When I double-checked at www.whois.com, I saw where the domain name was available. He didn't know it. He thought that just because he was on Facebook and the name of his page was what his domain name would have been, he thought he owned it.

Wrong-o.

You can name your business or organizational Facebook page just about anything you want. That is not your domain name.

A domain name is the name you would use for your website. It would have a www. in front of the name you choose.

I cannot stress enough how important it is for every business to own it's own domain name - and to make sure the ownership is listed as the company's name - not a technical person who bought it for you. That's another discussion based upon the school of hard knocks.

MARKETING TIP: The name of your Facebook page is not your domain name. Make life simple for yourself. Go to www.GoDaddy.com and purchase your domain name. You don't have to have a website to do it. 

Cell phone? How do customers find your number?

Do you use a cell phone for your business? If so, how do people find your number? 

If you have a strong web presence, then yes, you can be found. But what about the business owner who has little to no web presence? How does he get new business?

Granted, phone books are history. Current generations don't even know what they are. Land lines are soon to be history, even though I feel they have much better reception and reliability. I hate talking with someone on a cell phone because the pitch hurts my ears. It's very difficult for me to usually understand what is being said on the other end of the conversation.

Cell phones are sexy. People have to have the latest one, the one with the most apps, the greatest memory and speed.

But all of that isn't really necessary when you're trying to get your own business phone number out in the public's eye.

MARKETING TIP: If you're using a cell phone for your business, put as much energy into promoting the number online as you do playing with your apps and gadgets. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Promote your own booth in an antique mall

I recently talked with the owner of an antique mall who said he didn't believe in updating his website or increasing his web presence. WHAT??!! He said that when people type "antiques" in his city, his site shows up first along with a map.

I wonder if his booth vendors know that.

So if you're a booth vendor, you need to be out there promoting your own place. Use every online mechanism you can. If the management of your mall isn't going to bend over backwards to promote the store, then it's your responsibility to do it as you show your own items. Let the management know what you're doing.

In the long run, you'll sell more items and your store will make more money. Then negotiate the cost of your booth.

MARKETING TIP: Never rely upon someone else to promote your own company. You need to be out there in the marketplace - too.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Big Lick Bluegrass Festival uses You Tube to invite festival goers


MARKETING TIP: Use You Tube to invite people to your event. It's personal. And it's free.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hey bands! Listen to me! I need hi-resolution photos!!!!!

I stand on my head. I pull out my hair. I scream. Does it do any good? Apparently not. Hey bands, if you want me to promote your group, please provide a hi-res image!!

No, a 4x7 on your website doesn't cut it. I need an image that is at least 2mg in size. I'm looking at the number of pixels in the image, not the number of inches.

Print needs a good, professional hi-res image. Newspapers and magazines don't pull something from your website. As one editor once told me, "You can't create something from a postage stamp." Referring to pixels, the photo you have on your site is the same as a postage stamp. You cannot make it bigger.

Yes, you can use lo-res on your website. You can use lo-res anywhere online. But, for print, lo-res doesn't get it.

For more information on what the difference is between hi- and lo- res, click here.

MARKETING TIP: If you want your band to be promoted, provide the event organizer and publicity person good, professionally-made hi-res images. PLEASE!


Reaching millennials


Reaching the millennials is a task many of us find rather daunting. I found this article and learned quite a bit from it. Yes, millennials are all over the web, but when they find something interesting, they dig. In my classes, I've had some students in their 20s and they have shared that they dig to try and verify what they read or hear. They seek the truth, looking for reliable sources.

And they use search engines.

MARKETING TIP: The internet is just as much your friend as your foe. If you want your business, festival, non-profit to be seen and to grow, you absolutely have to be on the internet. The Facebook audience is indeed huge. However, if you do a search, you only find one entry on Google, Bing, Yahoo and the others that you have a Facebook account. It's critical that you use more than one online portal to get your message out there. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Are you using You Tube?

Are you using You Tube to invite customers to your business, event or festival? It's so simple! You Tube is very user friendly.

All you have to do is either have someone use a digital camera to record you - or you can use your phone - or you can use your webcam. Once you have the video, You Tube guides you through the easy process of posting it. Once there, you take the link and add it to your website, your Google sites and all of your social networking sites. You also include it in your email marketing.

It's a personal invitation. You're face-to-face. Well, they see you and that's what you want.

MARKETING TIP: You Tube is used by more people worldwide than any other online portal. Use it to promote what you're doing. It's easy - and works!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fundraising? Use your noggin.

Most non-profits are partially funded by donors. Securing their dollars isn't as difficult as you may think. But, you do need to do your homework and use common sense.

An example of homework is to investigate the foundation, individual or corporation to find out past giving patterns. In the United States, you can do that by reviewing their 990 tax filings.

There are all kinds of tips for successful fundraising. I encourage you to find someone in your community or on your LinkedIn page who has a good track record for raising money. Learn how to be a success - and a failure - before you start knocking on doors.

Building  relationships is important in any kind of work you do. In fundraising, it is especially important to know your audience - the audience of donors. Know who they are, how they function, where they like to spend their free time and what is important to them. Know their granting habits. 

MARKETING TIP: Find out if you are a good match for a gift - before you ask for the deal.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Faulty communication

I just had the most fascinating private message conversation on Facebook with a marketing director for a local franchise company. After looking at her firm's FB page, asking her 30 minutes worth of questions and searching the web, I still do not know what her company sells.

On my personal FB page, I list a lot of job openings. Times are tough and I have helped friends secure interviews and new jobs. So the post about this fire safety company was intriguing. It never talked about the product or service, just the benefits of working there.

RED FLAG.

So I dug trying to find out if this was a legitimate company. I don't want to post bogus information on my page.

I'm still unsure.

MARKETING TIP: Always make sure your product or service is foremost in all of your communication. Be credible with your message. Make sure all your employees know what your products and services are.

Options to giving freebies

Artists, performers, crafters, writers, photographers ... the list goes on.

Too often, they do not feel that their work is worth a price. So they give it away. Shame. I don't believe in the "starving artist."

I suggest that artists and crafters always charge a fee or request something more than the obligatory sign or program thanking donors. And then, those signs only usually include the top supporters - not the one who gave a beautifully hand-turned raku bowl for auction.

I believe that an artist or crafter should have a tiered price list.
  • Retail - selling directly to the public
  • Wholesale - selling to another business for it to resell on the public retail market
  • Family/Friends/Non-profits - a special price for those people who are your absolute worst customers - the ones who shame you into giving at least one piece of your work
There is an option, however for non-profits. I recommend creating some type of criteria for your gift. You may ask an organization to apply to you for a donation.
  • You may require an organization to focus upon your work through press releases and media interviews.
  • You may choose 2-3 organizations to support - and that's it. No more.
MARKETING TIP: Be upfront and honest with customers - including non-profits, friends and family. You cannot work for free. So be sure to either be paid in money or in a fashion where a lot of potential new customers will see your work and your pretty face.





Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A personal note

I always say that you should post on your blog at least once a week. As you see, quite a few have passed since my last entry. My mother passed away in October and my father has been ill.

So this leads me to talk with you on a personal level ...

In this world where we are expected to work 40+ hours a week, take care of family, grab a minute for ourselves and watch the world go by because we're so busy, I encourage you to adopt the notion that family comes first.

Say it aloud: "Family comes first."

Yes, it does interfere with income, your TO DO list, personal and professional aspirations and goals. Yes, it does interfere with your free time. Yes, it does cause considerable stress at times.

But do it.

In the end, you will be very thankful that you did. You will have few or no  regrets. I learned to love and enjoy my mother and miss her terribly.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Are millennials moving out of your town?

I recently read where millennials are moving in droves from small rural towns to the big cities in search of a well-paying job and excitement. Face it, what can a 23-year old do in most small towns? Not much.

One way to retain youth in your community is to get them involved early on. Small town leaders across the country are seeing the benefit. For instance, Greensboro, N.C. was the first city to create a youth council. It has been copied by cities 'round the world. Here, youth work with community leaders and the city council to create activities for kids so they learn skills which will help them through life - leadership, organization, fundraising, etc.

I am a fan of small town boards creating a shadow organization of local students. They actually participate in local government activities. They may have a non-voting seat on the town board. However you want to frame it, the kids get buy-in early on to help grow their community.

MARKETING TIP: Large companies look for places to locate which offer a good quality of life. One aspect is youth involvement and leadership.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Is your press release ready to send? Think again.

Daily, reporters around the world weed through hundreds of emails in search of material they can actually use. Most of what they receive is deleted. If you want your release to stand out, here are some tricks of the trade:
  • Write a very short, pertinent subject line and don't use the words "Press Release".
  • If there is a date for an event, start the subject line with the date.
  • Include contact information - day and night phone and the contact person's name.
  • Send the press release in the body of the email, not as an attachment. 
  • Make it easy on the newsroom by sending the release as a Word document, not in a PDF format.
  • Photos help sell the story to the reporter or editor. For print, attach hi-res images.
  • Do not abbreviate names of places or things. Spell them out.
  • Double-check your spelling, punctuation and grammar. Are your tenses correct?
  • Keep your press release to no more than a page and a half double-spaced - or 300 words.
  • Write an enticing first couple of sentences. That is called the lede.
  • If you're writing about an event, make sure you have the cost of admission, hours, geographic street location, parking information and what people will be able to see or do.
  • Avoid using a press release to sell something. You'll just piss off the reporter. If you're selling a product or service, create a newsworthy reason to send the release. Focus upon the newsworthy aspect, not the product or service.
  • Avoid adjectives. They'll probably be deleted. Remember - just the facts.

MARKETING TIP: There are a lot of so-called PR people out there who think they know what they're doing. A press release can garner tremendous publicity if it is written correctly. Make sure your PR person does just that.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hey non-profits, do you know what your IRS tax classification is? It might be affecting your fundraising efforts.

In the United States, there are different classifications for non-profits. A 501(c)3 allows festival and event donors and sponsors to take their financial contribution off their taxes. Not all festivals and events fall into that category. Some claim to be non-profits, but don't have a 501c3 exemption code. Others have not followed up with their states to be tax exempt. Still others are simply - for profit.

For those which desire to be non-profit, it's important to make sure you can give something back to your sponsors. Look at your articles of incorporation. What do they say?

MARKETING TIP: When you're out fundraising, you will have more success if you are a 501c3. To find out how to set up a 501c3 or change from a 501c4, call Internal Revenue Service. Be sure to file the proper paperwork with your state office which handles corporations. It's worth the effort.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Russians hack into Tennessee farmers' market website - steal domain

You never know when someone is going to come along and steal your website and/or domain. That happened to me in 1999. I was one month into a new job when my organization's website went dark. I learned the bill had not been paid several months earlier, thereby allowing a local jerk to buy up the domain name. He kept it for a year and we bought it back. Yes, it was part of a local political vendetta and my organization survived, but we took a hit. We had not been hacked, but robbed.

Now I see that Russian hackers stole a farmers' market's domain. The farmers' market is located in Tennessee. There is no logic here. It's just plain theft and meanness. What are some ways to prevent this from happening? One way is to make your site private and to make sure you own it. Not sure? Who Is and Go Daddy have online portals to help you find out. If you can, so can robbers.

MARKETING TIP: Your website is not only your best online portal, but it is an investment. Protect it. Keep your passwords in a safe place and share that information with one more person. Who knows what might happen to you? Consider paying a few dollars more to have your site private. 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Non-profit boards sometimes go 'round in circles

Do you sit on a non-profit board? Are you part of an organization which has a board of directors? If so, check this out.

Boards go through stages and it's important to recognize which stage your board is in - and how to react and work with the members.

Keep in mind that when a board becomes dysfunctional, donors see it. Customers see it. Staff sees it. The end result is a downward spiral which can kill an organization.

MARKETING TIP: Putting your best foot forward often means looking inside first.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Changing Taxes and Your Bottom Line

The tax structure in the United States changes all the time. It affects small and large businesses, festivals, non-profits, educational institutions and individuals. For instance, an effort is afloat where I live for professionals (CPAs, lawyers, etc.) to charge sales tax.

As a result, if you hire one of these, you'll need to be prepared to pay more. Where do you get the money? You increase your fee, find new ways to make money and find new customers or sponsors.

It's important to keep up with legal changes and budget accordingly.

MARKETING TIP: If you have to increase your rates, feel free to explain why.