Saturday, March 9, 2019

Protecting your online assets ....

Here's a real scenario ... A small business owner hired a marketing company to create and manage a website and social media sites. Well, the customer never received the access information. Phone calls, emails and texts to the marketing firm were ignored. To avoid this from happening, there are some things you should do before hiring a company.... 

1) Check out the company. Get references. Ask for samples. Do a Google search for complaints.
2) Get everything in writing. That includes all access codes and information.
3) Make sure the sites are in YOUR name, not the name of the company.
4) Make sure the bill for those sites is in YOUR name, not the name of the company. That includes website hosting and any social media ads you buy. YOU want to be the one who pays the bill. If not, your site may go dark from lack of payment.

MARKETING TIP: In today's world, your online message is your most important sales tool. Protect it and your wallet.

Monday, February 11, 2019

This blog supports classroom activities

If you're looking at this blog from a phone, you are missing half of the information. For that, I truly apologize. Blogger is trying to help me fix the layout. 

If you are using a tablet, desktop or laptop, then you see that this blog has repeatedly been tapped into by students and faculty from classrooms worldwide. I see that in analytics that are not public.

So if you're on a phone, I invite you to check out this blog from a computer. But the main thing is to scroll through and see if there is anything that trips your trigger. Is there something here you can use? If so, do! It's free. I am always looking around for educational information to post.

That's why I'm sharing my own challenge. We all face them. Right?

MARKETING TIP: When you are creating a website, be sure to see how it looks from IE, Chrome, Opera and other platforms. Also look on different phones, as not all are set up the same. Be sure that your message if fully visible. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

How often should you post online?

Are you using the Internet to tell your story? Make sales? Get noticed? Then you need to spend time posting engaging, interesting and useful information. It may be a few sentences, a video, a link or a photo. 

What does that mean? If you're on Facebook, you should post once day. If you have a business account, and you should, then you can look at your analytics and see who is visiting your site. Usually you will see that 3/4 of the visits are women during lunch, at night, on weekends and on holidays when they are relaxing. You want your posts to spark conversation, as that is the basic premise of Facebook - conversation and dialogue. Posts that develop threads of discussion are successful.

If you have a website, you need to update it weekly. Monthly is okay, but the more you do it, the more visits you will get. Search engines like websites that are kept active. Again, you can do it by changing photos, videos and text. A website that sits there and isn't changed does you no good.

MARKETING TIP: Your online presence is critical for the success of your business, your festival attendance, your fundraising efforts and your community awareness. Post away!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Retailers should consider selling online, too

If you're a NASCAR fan, chances are you once visited the Richard Childress shop and gift store in Welcome, North Carolina. Years ago, there were some store items that just didn't sell. So the manager put them online. Wow. They sold out in a hurry. So he started adding more items to the online store. He raised the prices back to the regular price. Items kept selling. The manager couldn't believe that he wound up selling so many items online. Yes, he wound up with two stores - a bricks and mortar store and one via the Internet.

This was a good case study that I have shared with students in my small business promotion classes. 

Why just have one door into your store when you can have two? Wouldn't you like to double your money? It can happen. But when you do something like that, you need to really plan your promotional strategies. Always include your bricks and mortar store address with your online store address. Mentally believe that you have two stores, not one. Chart the items that sell and don't sell. Does your graph look the same for your physical location as it does for your online location? These are things to watch.

MARKETING TIP: Got a retail store? Want to make more money? Open one online. Promote them both. Let your customers know they have options. Hey, Walmart has done a pretty darned good job showing us the way ....

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Have a new PR job? Get to know your local media.

Well, it's been a while since I posted. Since August, I have been working on a huge, HUGE project that has diverted my attention from this blog. I have been handling the public relations for the closing of Business 40, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The 1.2-mile stretch of road was the first portion of Interstate 40 built in our state, in 1955. 

It's old and worn out and is being replaced. The Business 40 Improvement Project has truly been a community effort which started some 12 years ago. New bridges. New highway. New beautiful entrance into Winston-Salem, the city of arts and innovation.

So when I started, the first thing I did was to get in touch with my local media. I went to see them. I am surprised how many PR professionals have never been to a newspaper, TV station or radio station. They have never seen the people who work in a newsroom, except when they show up for an interview.

That is so very wrong. If you're in the PR business, you need to put the media first on your agenda and work with them. Give them story ideas. Help them get interviews and those necessary images. There is never a need to fear anyone in the press. Embrace them. Help them. Nurture your relationships. They are your friends and should be treated as such.

MARKETING TIP: If you want to succeed in your PR efforts, get out of the office and go meet your local news crews. That includes the assignment editors. And be sure to thank them all.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Please accept my apologies ....

Image result for uh oh meme
I really do apologize. Only half of this site works on mobile. If you are using your phone, chances are you cannot see the 100+ schools and universities - and companies - that have repeatedly visited. You cannot see a lot of the information I have on the right side of the screen. 

I apologize. I have set this blog to be mobile-friendly, but the design must not work.

I am working to fix it.


Saturday, August 18, 2018

Bad websites ...

Every now and then I find an incredibly bad website. Check this one out

The goal of a commerce website is to make money. The site needs to be something the viewer, or shopper, can use. Photos and text should  be easy to see. 

A website should be viewed by others before going live. Mistakes can be caught during that time.

I feel for the owner of this site. He is either clueless about how bad it is or doesn't care.

MARKETING TIP: Make sure your website is useful, has good content and can be read easily.

Friday, August 17, 2018

When a parade fails ...

I love a parade. I love the floats,  the clowns, the bands, the girls in their crowns, the antique cars and the positive energy that comes from such an event.

Successful parades need strong leadership, a pot of money to spend and a desire, backed by energy and community support.

I recently learned of a parade in a small town which fell apart this year. The 129-year old event lasted 15 minutes. Attendees madly posted their frustration on social media. 

City leadership said it wasn't their event, that the merchant's association was doing it. 

When things fall apart like this, it is time for new leadership. Either a grass roots effort by local volunteers or an organization that needs recognition should step to the plate.

MARKETING TIP: Everyone loves a great event. When it falls apart, negativity spreads like wildfire throughout a community. That puts a dark cloud over the entire city. To blow that cloud away, and foster a positive atmosphere, new leadership needs to be identified to carry on the event tradition. When that happens, people will return and the result will be the influx of more money locally.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Do you have an action plan for your business? Are you employees aware of it?

Do you have a plan of action for your event or small business? Some people may call this a business plan, but it's much more simple than that.

Event planners need to have a calendar of deadlines for activities, such as contacting potential sponsors, recruiting volunteers and training them and getting the advertising together.

Small business owners need a calender to share with employees about activities within the company. For example, if there is a deadline for a shipment to go out, employees need to know that. Many companies do provide that information, but not everyone does.

A plan of action helps everyone understand, and support, the mission. A published plan, to all employees, help them understand their roles. That is incredibly important. Too often leadership keep the calendar at the top of the corporate pyramid and underlings have to figure out their roles by themselves.

An action plan helps internal communication.

MARKETING TIP: People on the outside of an organization can see if it is running smoothly and that everyone is "in the know." Outside perception is critical to the success of non-profits, events and small businesses. Others want to support organizations that are strong, successful and have a well-oiled engine of supporting and knowledgeable employees. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018


If you are mobile, consider changing to your web browser to see all the information here.

Laugh a little!

I teach classes about how to write and distribute press releases. Along the way, I meet some fabulous people.

I recently met a laughter therapist. She is hired by companies and schools to help loosen the tension and help the work flow. She gave us a short class.

She told us to think outside the box. She made us make funny faces at each other and try to move our teeth, cheeks, tongue, nose and lips at the same time. Then we all raised our arms, shook them and laughed.

The tension slipped right away. None of us knew the other, so this was a great icebreaker.

MARKETING TIP: Have fun in life. Have fun with your promotional pieces. When you have fun with them, the person who sees them will have fun too! 

Make your print ad work for you!

Normally I don't make a post this BIG. But, with these two graphics, I had to show you the details, or lack thereof. 

Here is the tale of two ads for two events. The ads were published on the same day. They ran in a community newspaper which has won all kinds of awards for its layout, design, news and sales teams. 

Which one looks better to you? Which one was created by a real designer? Which one wasn't?

If you were wanting to participate or attend, which would catch your eye? Which one is compelling? Which ones provides you enough information to make a decision?

MARKETING TIP: When you are putting together an ad of any kind, lean upon the professionals to help you do it. Make sure it contains a compelling look, one that tells your story. Be sure to include contact information, a web site of some kind and an actual street address.

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.