Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Bad grammar can hinder your bottom line

I recently received a newsletter from a real estate company. Do you see anything incorrect with the wording? 

I and my team at XXX in XXXX want to welcome the XXX family into our community

Can't find it? This line should read "My team and I..."

When you use poor grammar, it is a reflection upon you and your company. 

MARKETING TIP: Have someone eyeball your communication before you send it out. Make sure it is correct. Your income can depend upon it. Look at it this way. If you cannot write something correct for yourself, are you going to do it correctly for your client? 

Monday, June 4, 2018

What is your #1 sales tool? Your business card!

In my classes, I talk a lot about business cards. They are your #1 sales tool. It is what business people exchange and keep for reference. Your sales kit may go by the wayside, but information from your card will usually be kept.

So to reiterate what I have said before ...

  1. Keep your business card a standard shape of 2 inches x 3-1/2 inches. Odd sizes just don't work.
  2. Make your font large enough for people to read without having to squint or put on their glasses. 
  3. Keep your font legible. Oh, I could scream how many times I have seen an artsy-fartsy cursive font that no one can read.
  4. Put the basic facts - your name, phone, email, address. Yes, people want to know where you hang your coat.
  5. Use a heavy card stock. A flimsy one says you are not reputable and that you are a here-today, and may gone tomorrow person.
  6. Logos are nice, but not necessary.
  7. Keep the back available to jot a message on it.

MARKETING TIP: Your business card is your #1 sales tool. Put some thought into its design. Please.

Sending photos for print publication? Don't edit them.

I've had the pleasure of working with many fantastic photographers in my life. I enjoy getting all the necessary elements together for them to set up a fantastic shoot. Along the way, I've learned quite a bit.

One of those things is that when you're sending a photo for a newspaper publication, don't "fix" the photo first. One of my dearest friends was over the United Press International (UPI) bureau in Miami for years. I got to know him when he was the chief photographer for the Wilmington Star News.

He gave me a piece of advice I have always remembered - and that continues to be echoed by newspaper editors. Send the original photograph. Don't edit, fix or doctor it up. The paper will do that. Newspaper folks know when a photo has been doctored. They really don't like it, but will probably use it anyway. 

Photographers may or may not know the printing requirements that the paper follows. That is why it is best NOT to fix a photo before sending it. 

Make it easy. Send it as a jpg attachment with the story or the cutline.

MARKETING TIP: Keep your newspaper folks happy. That business isn't dead yet. People are still reading papers - online and hard copy.

Photographing an event? Know this basic rule ...

Have you been asked or hired to photograph an event? If so, congratulations! Do you know how the images are going to be used? If not, you need to ask.

Here is a basic rule ...

If the images are going to be used for publication, they need to be a minimum of 300 dpi and need to be sent as a jpg. If the event producer is sending it to a media outlet, the accompanying story, or press release, needs to be sent at the same time.


Photos can get lost and be separated from the story.

Newsrooms are small these days. They don't have the staff to hunt down a photo to go with a press release.

MARKETING TIP: Keep your client happy by sending images the correct size and through email. Attach the images to the email. A 1mg or 2 mg photo is large enough. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Writing a grant proposal? Tell your story ...

Writing a grant proposal? The best way is to tell your story.

For example, a food kitchen provides a daily meal to homeless people and needs funding to buy food and pay the utilities.

Would the grant start with the need for 25 cases of spaghetti sauce, 50 cases of pasta, 20 cases of canned mushrooms and 15 cases of dried Parmesan cheese? No. Granted, you're telling the need, but you can do it in a much more compelling way.

You can say... In winter, Harry R. lives in a homeless shelter. His employer closed the manufacturing plant three years ago and Harry has not been able to find work since. He suffers from disabling depression. In summer, he lives in a tented community nearby. He is just one of the people we serve a fresh, hot meal to each day.

Harry's ability to get a meal is in jeopardy because we are running low on funds. We have not received donations this year as we had expected because two other food kitchens have opened up in our county. They are 30 minutes from this one, but have tapped into our regular donors. So we need help.

Do you see the difference?

MARKETING TIP: When you're in the process of applying for a grant, tell the story, not only in the grant application, but to your local media. The goal is for the grant decision-makers to learn about your plight through various channels.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Buying a domain name

A domain name is one of the most important marketing tools any company or non-profit can ever have. It has to tell what your company/organization does or sells, be memorable and be short. Simple.

Yes, you can have more than one domain name. A marketing strategy is to use different domain names for various products. For example, a tourism promotional organization can use one domain for restaurants, hotels and attractions - and use another for events. It can use different domains for each of the attractions. Why? The answer is to be able to mine the website analytical data to increase sales. Bottom line.

So where do you go to buy a domain name? For me, there is only one place - Go Daddy. I use that company because it is located in the United States. There are people there who have lived in my state and know where my city is. They may speak with my dialect - and they're open 24/7. I'm not talking with anyone off shore. (And, this is an educational portal with no advertising.)

As you're setting up your company or organization, buy your domain name as fast as you can. There are really bad people in this world who monitor searches for domain names and will buy them up when they see one being frequently tested for ownership.

I just saw a $.99 special for a domain name. I waited 30 minutes and the special was gone, increasing from 99 cents (USD) to $11.99. I just lost $11.

MARKETING TIP: Your domain name is incredibly important. Delaying its purchase is not always wise. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Volunteers are golden. Treat them as such.

Keeping volunteers happy starts with the organization leadership
I'm flabbergasted. I recently heard about an organization that seemed to support chewing out volunteers. WHAT?

Non-profits typically have little money to hire employees. So volunteers fill in the gaps. A volunteer has the luxury of choosing the type of work that needs to be done, when, where and how often. A volunteer can sign up for a particular task and decline to do others.

That is the beauty of being a volunteer. (Here is a good guide sheet about how to work with volunteers.)

So when I heard that a non-profit had reprimanded volunteers, I was stunned. No, you just don't do that.

Volunteers are golden. They are precious. They will work harder than most paid staffers. They choose to be part of an organization; they don't have to do it. They can fill their time with other activities, yet they choose to donate their time to a cause they feel worthy.

So be kind and treat your volunteers well. If you don't, word will quickly get around and THAT will hurt your bottom line.

MARKETING TIP: When volunteers are happy campers, they can help you promote your organization more than you will ever know. They will help you succeed in your community. If they are unhappy and let it be known, you'll see it in your balance sheet.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Candidate Linda Coleman needs to learn about domain names

Folks, it's imperative that you purchase your own domain name. Why? Here's a classic example. A woman ran for a top government office. She bought the domain name for that election, but failed to keep it. Then before the next election, some Russian dude had it.

Is this woman fit for office? Maybe or maybe not. But she needs to ditch her advisors.

Here's another example. A woman farmer had the same name as a convicted felon more than 500 miles away. The convicted felon had the website. Do you think that could have caused a problem for the farmer? Yes, it could.

Buying a website is like purchasing an insurance policy. In this day when everything is online, it's absurd NOT to purchase your domain name. Go Daddy sells them for $10 or so a year. If your name isn't available, buy the next best selection. Go Daddy will show you options. Protect yourself.

MARKETING TIP: If you are self-employed, buy your domain name, regardless of the name of your company. If you are a student, a parent, a job seeker - be smart. Buy your own domain name. Potential voters, employers, creditors, neighbors, etc. will check you out. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Stop using your personal Facebook page for your business

Using Facebook personal pages for a business
Hey peeps! What on earth is it going to take to get you to understand that you cannot use a personal Facebook page for your business?

Here is what Facebook says about that:

"It's against the Facebook Terms to use your personal account to represent something other than yourself (example: your business), and you could permanently lose access to your account if you don't convert it to a Page."

Making your own Facebook business account is so simple. Chewing corn on the cob is more difficult!

MARKETING TIP: Please don't waste your time building your Facebook into a business when Facebook has the right to shut you down. You will lose your friends and all the time and money you spent creating your page. Do it correctly the first time!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What are the differences between how you operate a FOR and NOT for profit business?

Is a non-profit a business
I saw this in my IN box and had to share.

What is the difference between a FOR and NOT for profit business? Note I used the word "business."

Despite what many in the non-profit world think, a non-profit is a business. It is a corporation. It has to be, per IRS rules. To operate, it must have a viable, sustainable income stream.

But there are other factors too. I'm not going to post them here, but you need to read this article.

She talks about the corporate philosophy and community. I encourage you to subscribe to her online information and use it in your non-profit organization.

MARKETING TIP: A non-profit lives off other people's money. That's just the way it is. Non-profit board members and staff have to be accountable for it and be creative when it comes to sustainable operations. When the public sees that level of corporate responsibility, money will come easier.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fundraising? Are you a fish out of water?

Non-profit board diversity needed for fundraising
Fundraising? Don't be a fish out of water.

An organization of farmers wants to raise money for various projects. They send letters to a lot of corporations, but get no response. They wonder why.

They're fish out of water.

Their board is comprised of farmers. Their fundraising committee is comprised of farmers.

They need people from different industrial segments, like from medicine, banking, insurance, retail, education, food and transportation on their board. They need high profile people who can make connections within their own respective industries.

You don't send a farmer to talk with an insurance company. You send an insurance person to talk with the insurance company. They talk the same lingo. They may even know one another. They can connect because they're in the same industry.

So in your community, if you are with a non-profit, try to create a diverse board which can help you with your fundraising efforts.

MARKETING TIP: A diverse board, of people who are not afraid to ask for money on your organization's behalf, will help your coffers grow and help you provide more services within your community. 

Hey tourism offices, don't forget the community newspaper ...

I just spoke with the PR person at a convention and visitors bureau. She routinely used to send out press releases about fun, enticing events and activities in her city. No more. She relies upon social networking and her website.

Well, I hate to tell her, but there is a world of promotional opportunity that she just cut off.

Local newspapers like to write about local happenings, yes. However, some have arts and entertainment tabloids, or even regional magazines, where they sometimes like to show what is going on elsewhere.

And yes, people do still read. Some of those publications are available online.

But editors and reporters need the information.

MARKETING TIP: Continue to send out press releases with hi-res images to print media. That world isn't dead yet. And, reporters and editors don't have time to weed through social media and website portals to find your information.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Using your personal Facebook page for a business? No. No.

A local greenhouse has two Facebook pages, a personal and a business. However, they look the same.

Not good. To get a business page, Facebook requires that you have a personal page. That should be the name of one person, not two. The business page is the name of the business.

In this particular case, the greenhouse was using the name of the business on both pages. Facebook has been known to shut down accounts because of incorrect use.

So, you need to make sure your personal and business pages are separate.

MARKETING TIP: If you want to ensure that you have a presence on Facebook, follow the rules.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Suing festival organizers ...

There once was a prestigious festival in the Bahamas. It was a pretty pricey event, with tickets costing upwards of $250,000.

It was called the Frye Festival.

But the organizers blew it. If there was any hope, at all, of having a great event, they blew it.

So now, they're being sued.

Why? Unfulfilled promises. Shoddy delivery.

Major bands backed out. Attendees were treated inhumanely. It's a tale of a great idea gone bad.

MARKETING TIP: Make sure you have your act together when putting on an event. Deliver what you promise. That will give you really good exposure for your next festival.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Free publicity for businesses, farmers, non-profits, retailers, restaurants ..

Local media are always interested in what is going on in the community. Naturally, it may be a challenge to cover it because of personnel cutbacks. So, local TV, radio and newspaper need you to keep them informed.

Let's say you are a local business - perhaps a farm - and you have a new product to sell, or you have launched a new production method. Maybe you're using 3-D printers for the first time on your production line. Or, perhaps you have purchased new equipment to meet market demand. Or, perhaps the strawberries are getting ready to pick and you want to let people know.

Your local media outlets may find that interesting and would like to do a story on your company. Hey, it's free press.

Perhaps you're a retailer, restaurant or local attraction and you've expanded your hours for the warmer months. Don't you feel you need to tell someone? Share that with you local media outlets.

Or maybe your business has recently been sold. It's not just the tax department who would like to know. Your new owner may want to make the announcement, along with a ribbon cutting with the local chamber of commerce. New business is a huge event and needs local media attention.

Are you a non-profit with a new fundraising event? What are you trying to fund? How much money do you hope to raise? What are the event details? Can you send out a press release 3 weeks in advance to get pre-event publicity?

MARKETING TIP: Look inside your organization or company for information that can be used by local media. A news story is free publicity - and sometimes is posted online. That means it can reach your current and potential customers.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Festival press releases

Well, well, well ... we're getting into that time of year when festival and event organizers are putting the final touches on their spring celebrations. I'm starting to get some press releases. Some are very good. Others - well - not so.

There are some simple things you can do to make your press release stand out from all the others.

  • Put the date and name of event in the subject line, not the words "Press Release".
  • Make sure the event dates are correct.
  • Be sure to include where the festival/event will be held. Use a street address, if you can.
  • Include your contact information, with a phone number.
  • Double-check your media distribution list. High turnovers mean last year's contact may be gone.
  • Put the press release in the body of the email - not a pdf. Please.
  • Find out what the media outlet's deadline is. Adhere to it.
  • Keep your release short, no more than 1-1/2 pages.
  • Send hi-res images, if you have any. One or two is sufficient.

MARKETING TIP: By following these simple rules, your press release will see the eyeballs of someone in the news room - and not be tossed into the trash can. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Jazz up your festival website with local favorite recipes

Use recipes to spruce up your festival website
America isn't the only melting pot nation. I believe there are many others. Immigrants bring their own culture, food, attire, attitudes and heritage. They celebrate through dance and song.

In the United States, it has been my experience that residents in the northern states tend to embrace their culture much more so than those who live in the South. For instance, Italian, Greek, German, Scandinavian and other immigrants throw festivals up north, offering a rich palate of foods, costumes, music, storytelling and dance.

In the South, we tend to see festivals which celebrate t-h-i-n-g-s, such as animals, flowers, trees, geography or our own US history. Those are held up North too, but the cultural experiences I see there are not typical for the south.

A neat way to embrace the festival topic is to carry it to your website.

For example, a Southern festival may celebrate blueberries. Add a favorite local recipe, such as one for a blueberry upside down cake. A Northern festival could include local favorite recipes, such as authentic pizza dough, for an Italian festival.

Your website viewers will find the portal much more interesting and be willing to share information from it.

MARKETING TIP: Jazz up your festival website with food recipes!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Can people really read your website?

Can you see these colors? Can you  read these words?
Can prospective clients, festival goers and financial donors read your website? Is it clear? Are the letters big enough and bold enough to be seen?

When you're designing a site, a lighter background works best so you can have either a dark blue or black colored font. Those are pretty standard. A reverse of a dark color with a light-colored font is acceptable.

However, you want to make sure the light-colored font is bold enough to be seen. Sometimes white on black isn't as easy to read as black on white.

If you want to see a site which could be more effective, check this one out. Do you see the blue on blue ... reminds me of a song there .......

MARKETING TIP: Your website and your business card are your top two sales tools. Make them so people can see and read the words.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Do NOT send your press release as a PDF attachment

It happens every day in every newsroom. Reporters and editors have to take precious time to download and open a PDF with a press release. Not every newsroom has the software to do that.

Public relations firms, governmental agencies, non-profits, businesses - so many people are guilty of sending a press release the wrong way.

If you want your press release considered for use, then you have to send it correctly. It needs to be sent in the body of the email. Photos, graphs and ancillary materials can be sent as a PDF, but NOT the press release.

The reason so many people send it as a PDF is that they don't want the content changed. Well, if you want the release used, it has to be in a format where the text can be accessed. The editor may have to change your words. Just get over it!

MARKETING TIP: If you want your press release to be used, send it in the proper fashion. Otherwise, it may never even be read.

Monday, February 20, 2017

If you want to reach the teens, best of luck. I conducted a survey recently of where they find their music. Most of them find it on You Tube and Pandora. Others found it on 102 JAMZ, a local hip hop radio station.

Still, they're not listening to the radio that much. They're certainly not watching TV. So the best way to reach them is to ask for their help.

"HELP," I cried.

So they did. I'm working on a grant proposal and needed feedback about what kind of music teens like. They gladly told me. They liked being asked for their opinion. Suddenly, my project was very important to them - and so was I.

MARKETING TIP: If you don't have the answer, ask. Reach out to your market segment and reel them in. Ask them for their opinions. You'll be glad you did.