Limit Your Market – A FABULOUS Guest Post About Niche Marketing!

Today’s post is by Barbara Grassey, writer extraordinaire and good friend of mine! Her niche marketing tips are SUPERB and her marketing knowledge rivals mine (not sure I can say that about too many peeps!)

Limit Your Market - Niche MarketingI spent my first five years of internet marketing trying to dominate my market place. World domination was my goal and I hit seminars, webinars, teleseminars, read books, went on forums, got mentors, bought courses and software and did everything I could to conquer the internet. My findings: The internet is REALLY, REALLY BIG.

After beating my head against the world wide wall, I finally knocked some sense into it. I woke up one day and realized I didn’t need to dominate the internet. I didn’t even need to dominate my niche. In fact, I barely needed to market.

I run a “boutique” business. No, I don’t run a boutique. A boutique business is one where the clients are high end and very, very niche. I don’t need to market to the masses and in fact there are no masses to market to. I can get by with as few as eight clients a year, though I shoot for 12. I usually have one or two repeat clients a year. Almost all of my clients are referred to me.

I would love to tell you that this happened through clever strategizing on my part. I wish I could say that I purposely built up a referral business. Of course I didn’t. It happened partially through luck and partially because I do good work that I charge a lot of money for. I have very little overhead (internet fees, coffee, single malt scotch, chocolate — not necessarily in that order) and mostly sit on my sofa in shorts and a t-shirt. I seldom actually meet with a client. It’s all done by email and a few phone calls. I still have to work – it’s not passive income. But I don’t have to spend a lot to do what I do.

Once I realized how small my true target market was I stopped killing myself trying to dominate the marketplace. My target demographic is less than 10,000 people. OK. Maybe a few more than that, but I am not interested in finding ALL of them. I only need a dozen a year and there are new people entering the marketplace every year.

While this may be very nice for me, how does this information help you? It may not. But it very well might. When I worked with marketing clients (back when I was trying to be all things to all people), I always started them out with an exercise to find their target demographic. It starts with finding their ideal/best client. For me, my ideal/best client is a busy speaker who needs a manual and doesn’t hesitate to pay big money for it. I especially prefer clients who don’t like to read. But that’s my bias. Sometimes your client base is geographic or a certain ethnic group or age range. You need to know who you are targeting before you do anything else. That exercise alone should start focusing your marketing efforts.

Once you figure out who your ideal client is (and that client is ALWAYS someone who willingly pays for your services), you need to determine if they can be reached easily. If your target market is difficult to reach, you’re always going to be struggling – spending too much time and money to bring clients into your business. So, if your target market is hard to reach, can you narrow or widen your target to a more easily reached demographic?

As an example, let’s say you run a pool service. Your target market is anyone with a pool within a certain geographic area. You can run ads in the local paper and gradually build up a cliental of 50 or 100 homes at a moderate monthly fee. That would be a pretty good business at $75 a month. But, could you build your business faster if you bought a mailing list of people who owned pools? (Yes, of course. There’s a list for that. There’s a list for just about everything!) What if you targeted pool owners in one or two upscale subdivisions? Now you can charge the same or maybe more (“Elite Pool Service”) and you are no longer driving all over hell and creation to service your accounts, cutting your overhead. What if you targeted commercial pools – hotels, condo associations, etc. You can charge more for that service, have fewer clients and cut your costs even more.

The point is, you probably don’t have to be or want to be the largest pool service in the world. You just want to carve out a customer base that provides a steady income, that you can expand at will and maybe one day sell your business at a nice profit.

The third component is to charge enough money to compensate you for your hard work and cover your overhead. Too many businesses are afraid to charge what they are worth and this results in constant cash flow problems. It eventually leads to owner burnout. What you charge is a marketing tool. It helps define your customer. It weeds out people who can’t afford you, and people who can’t afford to pay you are very bad clients. It establishes a higher level of credibility and confidence which is incredibly dumb, I know, but it does. “He must be good – look how much he’s charging!”

Take a look at your business and spend some time determining just how many clients you need on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. How many do you need if you raise your prices? Then determine if there is an easily targeted subset of your market that you can go after. You may find that you can have more clients, money and time by limiting your market rather than dominating it.

My pal Barbara Grassey is super funny (no, seriously, she used to be comedian!) PLUS an amazing ghost writer of manuals for speakers. I LOVE her style and look forward to every word!!!

The Difference Between Not Working and Failing

The difference between something not working and failing is huge and one that most people are not good at recognizing. This has come up a couple of times this week and so I wanted to get it out there, in writing for the world to see!

Not Working or FailingI was talking with my buddy Cyndee the other day and she said “oh I tried that and it is not working”. She then went on to other things that she is trying now AND talked about things that WERE working. The main point is that she NEVER felt like she failed, just tried and something was not working.

My other buddy Deb and I get together and try stuff all the time. We are ridiculous and naive, never assuming that it will not work, just saying that we are going to try and do it. Some of those things ARE working now and some have fallen flat on their faces BUT instead of focusing on the ones that do not work, we choose to look at the ones that did and then figure out how to do more of those things.

I talk to lots of clients who “tried” a website and it “failed” because no one came. They “tried” an email campaign years ago and it “failed” because there were no sales. They “tried” facebook but “failed” because they got no business from it.

I think this may be the most important post I have written this year. There I said it. If you get nothing else from reading this, STOP THINKING YOU FAILED.

I am not going to throw out that old Thomas Edison lightbulb thing or the gagillion other stories about people who overcame adversity to conquer all. This is just a little post about changing how you think about yourself and what you do.

Start trying things today. If they do not work, try something else and do not waste one second on worrying about it. Learn what you can from it, do not do that part of it again and try something else!

If you have success stories of things you have tried that worked, please feel free to post them here. If you have any failures, go back to the beginning and start reading again because you missed the point!

Small Business Marketing Planning

Small business marketing planning is something most entrepreneurs and small business owners never do, much to their detriment. They spend their time jumping from the latest new thing to the next big thing, never stopping for a breath.

Small Business Marketing PlanningSo what does small business marketing planning entail exactly? Here are some of the steps that we take our marketing clients through that could help you to get your marketing efforts on track:

  • Who are the clients you are trying to attract
  • How have you found them before
  • What products and services do they like
  • What products and services should you offer
  • What channels (online, offline, social media, direct mail, etc) should you use to reach those people with your offer
  • What steps are you going to take this month, this week, today to implement your marketing plan
  • What metrics are you going to use to gauge your success? Added contacts, friends, followers, sales, leads, etc.

One of the first things you should notice about this is that at no time did I say do you want a new logo, blog, email program or any other specific thing that is the flavor of the moment. All of the shiney marketing things like Facebook, WordPress, and Email are just the TOOLS to use and are a HUGE distraction to your plan. Figure out WHAT to do BEFORE you figure out HOW you are going to accomplish it!

These are just a few of the parts of creating a SUCCESSFUL marketing plan. If you implement just a couple you will be MILES ahead of your competition. If you implement them all, you cannot fail!

Affiliate Marketing Where Is Your Passion

Affiliate marketing is a topic that comes up A LOT in my world. Bloggers are often affiliate marketers and I have just one word of warning for them. Make sure to follow your passion!

Affiliate Marketing PassionMany of the small business blogs that we develop are for affiliates. Oftentimes they have picked a topic that is “hot” by doing research on trends and search volume. I have done that in the past. Sigh.

Every time I have made the decision to do affiliate marketing with no passion behind it, I have petered out early. Now do not get me wrong, passion comes in many forms and it is easy to find a way to monazite your passion but pick your topic wisely!

The benefit of doing an affiliate blog with a hot topic is that you have the opportunity to get fast money. There are serious downfalls also:

  • AFFILIATE MARKTING COMPETITION – this is a biggie. If you are not serious about spending some major adwords coin on keywords, you are probably not going to see a huge amount of traffic right off the bat. Make money online is a great niche but the cost per click is about 3 bucks. Not cheap.
  • AFFILIATE BURNOUT – I can tell you unilaterally, if you are not at least somewhat interested in your category you will come to hate it more than life itself. I keep reading about fishing, lures, tackle, etc. So when Christmas rolled around I figured it would be a great idea to have a list of presents for fishermen. Argg. I HATE fishing. It took me 10 times as long to research fishing presents as it did for me to research crafting presents (I like crafting) since I had no background other than having fished 30 plus years ago with my grandfather.
  • ORGANIC KEYWORD COMPETITION – Now I am HUGE proponent of picking big keywords and having a long term plan for ranking well for them. That having been said, if this is just a little affiliate blog without tons of content, you will struggle to beat the established players in your niche market. If your category is not your passion, coming up with content or even content ideas will be a struggle.

So how do you make your passion pay? If you are a passionate green living nut, find a product or service to sell that goes along with your lifestyle, DO NOT pick something because it is hot. Today on clickbank the top selling product seems to be SatelliteDirect – Highest Converting Tv To PC Product. That is SO not a green item and would not be a good fit.

I was “watching” Seth Godin’s ebook the other day over at Vook and he talked about the farmers market Zeitgeist. Now the farmers had no way of knowing that eating well would be coming back into vogue BUT they had the products and systems in place to serve foodies when it did! Pick a topic that is trending but not super hot and then build a destination for people to come to.

Cathy over at Copy Cat Copywriting had a great post the other day about online marketing and picking a buying niche. It is SO worth a read!

Small Business Internet Marketing Get Rich Slow

Small business internet marketing is not a sprint, it is a get rich slow scheme. As with anything that is important to your business, it takes time to build up a audience AND the skills to do the work. Here are a couple of the things that I do on a regular basis to market my company and the time it takes to do them!

Small Business Internet MarketingWrite Blog Posts – this is the MOST important thing I do for my small business internet marketing efforts! When I write a post and publish it more people come to my website – DUH. I have a goal of 10,000 visits per month and the ONLY thing that will get me there is having new great content AND making sure that it is written correctly so that search engines can find it.

There are three types of blog posts I write:

  1. Evergreen Blog Posts – These are meant to be information that will not get stale and which will help my small business owners no matter what happens with different platforms like facebook or wordpress. Some of my recent evergreen posts cover things like keyword research, naming your products and email marketing. While these things may change form from time to time, they are a part of doing business on the internet in our time. These posts can take between 1-2 hours and usually require a little research.
  2. Current Information Posts – These are posts that cover a new product or tool that I think my readers would like. Generally I put some content there with a link to whatever I am talking about and these take only about 15 minutes to write. Now sometimes I put a video up on how to use them over at the Marketing Artfully membership site which adds another half hour or so.
  3. My Opinion Posts – I think that I like these the best. This is one of those posts! Basically what I do is write about how I do my business or what I think about a topic that would be relevant to my readership. These posts take between 15 minutes for a shorty and half an hour for a long one like this.

Keep Track Of My Marketing “Stuff”

The next most important thing I do is make sure all of my marketing links, products and services are up to date. Things change in business and checking back regularly to make sure that your offerings reflect your current business is super important. Just this week I realized that an old post had a link to a service we no longer offer so I changed that link. I also saw that one of my profiles had old information and fixed that too. I HATE that I have to do this as I am no different than anyone else. I wish that I could just do everything once and have it be finished but that is not the real world and wishing for that does not help me or add to my success. I would say that once a month I take about an hour to look at different things and at least once a day I find something I can tweek and make better.

Promoting My Site

This is a biggie. I spend a lot of time each day doing something that will help drive traffic back to Marketing Artfully but all of it matters. Here are some things I do and timelines:

  • Speaking – I go out and talk to humans and let them know that there is a wealth of small business marketing on my site. This takes about 10 hours per week counting networking and teaching.
  • Bookmarking – This is a hoot! I was teaching class the other day and telling people to click the little link at the bottom of their blog posts to share them and get more traffic. Someone asked if I had to do that every time I posted and was horrified when I said yes. REALLY? It takes me exactly 6 minutes to bookmark to 10 websites like stumble upon, google, digg and more (I timed it today). Now it took me a couple of hours initially to get them set up but they drive hundreds of people to my site each month. Well worth the time it took!
  • Commenting on other blogs – HUH this takes about 15 minutes a day more or less. I have a bunch of blogs that get emailed to me or show up in my google reader so I don’t have to look too hard for things to comment on AND I like learning about new things so this is pleasure for me to do.
  • Setting up incoming links – I make free websites that have links back to my blog and targeted keywords. I do not do this regularly enough but when I sit down to do it it takes a couple of hours to make multiple backlinks.

Email Marketing

I only send out a couple of emails a month so I would say this takes me two hours a month. Nothing sexy here, just making sure that I send great information to people who really want to read it.

Making Videos

This is one I think small business owners are afraid of! It takes me 10 minutes to make a video using jingproject.com and pop it up to youtube. It takes me 10 minutes to do a video with my flip camera and pop it up to youtube.

Now when I do the training videos for my membership site it takes about an hour a video since there are intro and editing and uploading BUT that is only for people who are doing fancy-schmancy training. Most of the time I opt for down and dirty with great information and more of it than I could do if each video was a work of art.

Well I hope that helps – this post is running to just over a thousand words, took me about a half an hour to write and I actually enjoyed knowing that some small business owners would benefit from knowing how little time it takes to succeed online!

PS – I was prompted to write this post because I got an email in my inbox that said “How I Made $54,281 in 90 Minutes By Doing This One Thing” which implied that if I bought his product that I could make 54K with no work and with no effort!!!

Internet Marketing Keyword and Product Names

When you are doing internet marketing, keyword and product names are more important than almost anything else you can do. It is great to have a product or service, but if no one can find it then you are going to have trouble making sales!

Internet Marketing KeywordsFriday I wrote a post about Small Business Marketing Naming Concepts which covered the basics of generally naming your products but I feel like I missed something in the internet marketing translation.

Why Keywords and Product Names Matter

I cannot stress this enough, keyword and product names matter more today than ever! Getting sales or leads from the internet relies on humans being able to find your company while doing searches. People find information by doing looking on search engines. Every one of you has “googled” something at least once in your life so you know what I am talking about. Search engines are just databases of information that is indexed by taking words you use and comparing them to words other humans use and seeing if they match.

This is not rocket science. If I name my best product Small Business Internet Express instead of naming it the Marketing Artfully Success System I have more of a chance of showing up in the search engines for the search term “small business internet” which is closer to my product than using my company name or obscure terms like success system.

Just so you know what this would mean to your business in the real world:

  • Small Business Internet is searched 49,500 times per month
  • Success System is searched 33,100 times per month and
  • Business Success System has not enough searches to even estimate

So if I was trying to let small business owners know that I am selling internet products, the name I am using DEFINITELY will have a better chance of being found than something less fun and sexy. Now I KNOW it not fun to name your products what they are. It is more fun to make great marketing campaigns based on something funny or clever, BUT that makes it harder to get the word out there.

As a small business owner, I do not have the resources to do a branding campaign big enough to get the general public and especially the search engines to understand that a made up name is really a small business internet marketing program.

Small Business Marketing Naming Concepts

Every once in a while I like to get back to old school marketing and talk about how small business marketing naming concepts work in the real world! People will ONLY buy what they can understand and they do not have your knowledge of the back story of your products.

Old School MarketingThis is the WORST name for a product I have ever seen (the name of the business is kept secret for obvious reasons)! They are a butcher and sell meat products. Naming a product “55 Pound Lamb Carcass” may be factual BUT I wonder how much it improves sales…:) I especially like the fact that they talk about dead sheep and then put a picture of the little wooly lamb next to it!

The other end of the bad naming concept spectrum is someone who has a great concept but does not name their product or even set the parameters for what it entails. There is a woman in my networking group who has gotten SO much better. Before she talked about how she sold “happiness” and “feeling good”. That IS focusing on the benefits of her products BUT we had no idea what-so-ever what she was actually selling! Now she is actually saying what her product is and I have to think that she will sell more of them!

So your homework today is to:

  1. Make sure you have named your product or service
  2. Check that it is not an icky or offensive name
  3. Confirm that other humans can understand what you are selling even if they do not know about you
  4. Then sell, sell, sell!

Click here if you would like to find out a little more about features versus benefits

Incoming search terms:

  • best concepts for business names
  • business name concepts
  • conceptual names for company
  • names of business concepts

Niche Marketing Know Your Audience

When I think about niche marketing I am as hesitant as the next person to eliminate any potential customers BUT it is totally necessary! If you try and please everyone, you will ultimately please no one and will have a hard time succeeding. So, what causes me to make that terribly bold statement?

Niche MarketingYesterday I was at a networking group with a copywriter who had just visited our group for the first time. She asked if she could bounce one of her products off of us and we said of course! She then proceeded to say that she was offering to review any communications that we would send out including emails, blog posts and marketing materials, making sure that they were grammatically and visually correct. Huh. Well anyone who reads this blog knows that is NOT a top priority for me…sigh. Just the other day I sent out a message that said my Free Website Class was being held on February 32nd.

Now don’t get me wrong! I am as driven to provide great information and content as the next gal, BUT being perfect all of the time is not one of my main goals. That having been said, Joy (my friend the Denver Bookkeeper) sitting next to me was thrilled that someone would help her make sure that everything went out right. Gotta say, I WANT my bookkeeper or my accountant or my lawyer to have a higher level of persnickity-ness about their communications than my marketer or my hairdresser.

I work on volume and if I had to have someone review every one of the 100′s of blog posts or articles or emails I do a year, my reach would go down and I would not have the level of success I enjoy now. That having been said, she could definitely have a great client base if she were to focus on providing service for people who ARE worried about doing things perfectly. Joy would be a great client, a doctor would be a great client, anyone who is in a professional industry probably shares some of that same fear of sending out a “bad” communication!

Yet still she tried to convince me that I was wrong and that I should be more concerned.

You CAN NOT convince someone to buy your product or service without A LOT work. She would do better to focus on providing great products and services to a smaller group of people who are receptive to hearing her message. This is niche marketing at its finest!

Now I am not picking on the new copywriter only…I talk to a lot of realtors every month and the first thing I ask them is who they work with – buyers or sellers, condo owners or single family homeowners, first time homebuyers or move up buyers. Invariably, most of them say ANYONE! Anyone who can fog a mirror is a potential client. ARGGGG. If they would just make a stand and concentrate on some kind of niche, they could do so much more and achieve even more success.

My niche market is working with small business owners, entrepreneurs and realtors on their marketing needs. I know FOR SURE who my target market is, so reaching them becomes easier than if I said that ANY company in the world is my potential prospect.

Please do not feel that choosing a niche eliminates anyone else. I do work with larger companies which have a more entrepreneurial spirit or who have a real connection to who I am or what I do BUT that is my choice. Day to day I am blessed to work with dynamic, interesting and sometimes chaotic entrepreneurial souls who are making a difference in the world!

Google Buzz and Gist Updates

There are some really new things happening like google buzz and gist which could be a great way to keep up with your contacts and what they are doing across Facebook, Twitter and their blogs. Warning, if you want the world to be the way it was 20 years ago and not have to continually learn, change and figue out new technologies this is NOT the post for you!

Google BuzzGOOGLE BUZZ

Google Buzz is here (just FYI I didn’t know it even existed until 2 days ago so you are not very far behind the curve…:) What I have found it to be thus far is an incorporation between my google contacts and my gmail in conjunction with their blog posts and twitter tweets and more. It showed up as a little button below my Inbox. Now I did request to be added to it so I am not sure if it would have just showed up anyways or not – just in case here is a link to Google Buzz.

The way that google finds these items to post is by searching what you have entered in your google profile so make sure that your blogs, facebook and twitter accounts are up to date!

I will do a more in depth post on this alone once I understand what it is BUT there is always a first responder advantage so get signed up and worry about the rest later!!!

gistGIST

This seems like it could be really neat…or a huge waste of time! Basically what it is is a way to load all of your favorite people’s social networking and blog stuff into one place and then be able to keep up with them all at once across platforms. That having been said, it seems like it might take A LOT of time getting all that stuff loaded in initially. I think if it catches on A BUNCH then eventually other people will load their own stuff and you won’t have to do it BUT there are not that many people preloaded now.

I am going to write about the benefits of being first to market on Monday so make sure to check back!

Super Bowl Ads Recap and Analysis

What is the purpose of an Superbowl advertisement? Is is branding, comedy or SALES? It is my understanding that all advertisements are supposed to generate twice as much revenue as they cost and at the very least should be able to pay for themselves with sales. Here is a VERY subjective look at Superbowl ads old and new and their sales effectiveness.

According to CNN Money, the 2010 super bowl ads cost “a record $2.6 million for a 30-second spot”. Add that to the approximately 1 million dollars it takes to produce the ad. That is a tremendous amount of money to have to recoup with sales and it doesn’t even touch what companies like Dorito’s and Papa Johns paid to be official sponsors of the event.

The other consideration is whether the ad is effective for just men or just women. At halftime my husband’s favorite ads where the Snickers where they slammed Betty White into a puddle and also the Doritos bark collar. I liked the irony of Oprah, Jay and Dave sitting together having a terrible Superbowl party BUT that is totally branding AND you have to know a lot of back story to have it make sense. That having been said, to people who DO pay attention it was worth a chuckle. I also like the ongoing Budweiser ads with the Clydesdales although this years was just okay.

I have been VERY disappointed with the ads and was particularly grouchy about one that had people flipping around in a pool like dolphins. REALLY? You are a Madison Avenue ad firm with a million dollar budget and the ability to do ANYTHING and you come up with slog like that?!?!!?

My Husband’s favorite commercial of all time is far and away the Nissan pigeons. We had a little talk about the effectiveness of the ad since he has never bought a Nissan, but John contends that it is a success because he talks about that commercial years later. He also thinks that paying this much attention to commercials is stupid, but that is a post for another day…:)

I don’t care what anyone says…I LOVED Pets.com and they were around just about the time that Stanley Brown Dog was a puppy so I have to say that single handed-ly tried to purchase enough new toys to keep them in business!! That having been said, having a business model that effectively loses money while spending gagillions on advertising may not be the exact way to go.

The Apple Computer Ad 1984 is my all time favorite commercial and the very first time that I remember noticing advertising as something I liked to study! It was directed by Ridley Scott and has set the bar pretty high for the competition. There IS something to be said for the fact that I did not purchase an Apple product until a couple of years ago – was it actually effective or just neat?

Should you digg your own site?

I have to admit, I digg my own site! Because of how we build our blogs, at the bottom of each post is a little button that says “Tell and Share” which allows me to fly through submitting my post to all sorts of bookmarking sites like Digg, Stumble Upon, Delicious and Google Bookmarking.

Digg Delicious Stumble Upon GoogleSharing my posts this way has a couple of great consequences including site traffic and people who follow my suggestions. Because I am sharing my blog posts on these bookmarking services I get between 30 and 50 free hits each time I post.

Now a word of caution! If you just start bookmarking today, you will probably NOT get that kind of response. I have been bookmarking for close to a year so I have friends and followers of my bookmarks just like you would have on Facebook or Twitter. Because I always suggest quality content (mine and other people’s), they can feel confident that if I recommend a link it is going to be informative.

So what are your thoughts? Should you bookmark your own posts or is there some sort of bookmarking etiquette that I am violating?

Marketing Artfully members – this week’s “free” post is about how to be deliberate about bookmarking and growing your bookmarking following!

Incoming search terms:

  • ?chzern trackback from your own site

Outsourcing is the new black!

So you are considering outsourcing some of your tasks – YAY YOU! Now that the rah-rah is out of the way, what kinds of tasks can you honestly get off of your plate and onto someone elses? One last thing, outsourcing does not always mean sending your work out of the country, just remember that because the standard of living is lower elsewhere, sometimes it just makes sense for certain tasks!

So what do I outsource?


Outsourcing Administrative Help – For any of you that read my blog regularly, you know I use THE Shell Marketing Manager for email database updating work and managing my schedule and clients. Michelle is in the US and very selective about the clients she will take so I am assured that my clients will be handled with the utmost care. She also does phone calling for me – after having had a bad experience previously, I am VERY careful about who I give my database list to call on my behalf!

Outsourcing general admin help that can be done not on site, I generally check first at oDesk . They offer all kinds of support and manage the workers so that you can be sure that you are getting work for the time you paid for! They are good for non-client contact work like submitting my websites to places, posting content to my niche blogs, basic admin tasks AND most don’t need to be hand held through the process because oDesk tests them first…:)

Outsourcing setting up my speaking events – I let Amber from Your Marketing Voice (online and offline networking) handle advertising my Denver area monthly internet marketing training events. She handles setting up events in Facebook, finding a place, answering attendee questions and so much more. Great speakers are not necessarily good admin people – don’t let people fall through the cracks just because you don’t follow up!!!

Outsourcing Blog Writing – I NEVER let anyone write for me for Marketing Artfully as this is my main blog, that having been said, I do hire writers to write articles, blog posts and free website content for some of my other web 2.0 properties. For cheap writing I use http://www.need-an-article.com/ and have been VERY happy with the results. I have to tweek it some to make it great but it is SO much easier to edit than to have to come up ideas from a blank screen. For content that I can just plop in there without having to worry I use a couple of different US based copywriters who I like very much!

There are people I outsource my technical problems, my accounting and also people I outsource my cooking too (LOVE that Colorado Home Chef..:) ANYTHING you do not like, have time for or do not know how to do is fair game! Find someone to help and get going working on what you ARE good at AND if the first one doesn’t work out, do not give up – try again!!!

There are affiliate links in this post that if clicked will result in me getting a little bit of money. If you would like to avoid giving me a little bit of money, type in the URLs manually…:)

Big Changes Coming!

Hi All – Just wanted to let you know that are some BIG (exciting) changes coming soon to Marketing Artfully in the Small Business Internet Marketing, Realtor Marketing and General Marketing Info Arenas!!!

Here are just a few of the things we are going to be doing:

Creating a membership site where we can keep all of the great information that we produce like videos, teleseminars and content all in one place. YAY! OF COURSE, some will be FREE and some will be paid but all will be the same high quality info that we always give!!!! Just a note, if you were thinking about getting the social networking videos DO IT NOW! The price is just $24.97 for lifetime access and that will be the very first thing that gets updated in the new membership site SOOO you can get your social networking videos now before the price jumps to $47 on January 1st!!!

Changing around how Marketing Artfully is set up! I think that I will have to go back to the old layout so people can see the membership login area. I don’t know if you noticed but I added a search the site feature so you can find exactly what you are looking for easily from the hundreds of posts.

Telling you guys more and more specific information about internet marketing, keyword research and blogs. Some of you have been with me a LONG time and I know that you are not newbies anymore. For the new year I am going to be breaking out some tougher marketing concepts and pairing those with webinars and teleseminars!

Anyways – hope you all have a great Christmas (or similar fun holiday) and I will see you next week!

PS – If you have any burning requests for information, specialized seminars or how you like to buy stuff (one time fees or subscriptions), speak now or forever hold your peace!!!

One-offs – How they cost small business owners time and opportunity!

According to Miriam Webster “one-offs” are limited to a single time, occasion or instance. I see MANY small business owners making the mistake of looking at customers as a one-off and also looking at one-off projects as real opportunities rather than the tremendous problems they really are!

One-offing Your Customers

I know, that sounds kind of bad AND it is! When we are in the trenches selling out products or services it can get really easy to become laser focused and lose the big picture. Your product or service may not be the answer to every problem and it is disingenuous to try and make it fit. Also, getting money from a customer one time (even a lot) but burning the relationship is SO not worth it!

The first goes along with the old saying, “when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. I worked for a GREAT company a while ago who operated like this. They were SO passionate about their product that they answered every question with “well you should use our product for that…and that…and that”. They also NEVER talked about any solutions other than their product, even if their solution was not in the best interest of the client. Humans recognize quickly that someone is doing this and then apply a filter to the information, always looking for the “gotcha” rather than listening to benefits.

The other half of this is sucking a customer dry with EVERYTHING you can take, burning them out for any future sales and losing your credibility at the same time. I know, a bird in the hand and all that BUT the lifetime value of a customer, their referrals and their goodwill is worth SO much more than taking everything you can get and leaving a bad taste in their mouth. Be honest with yourself about your motivation and make sure that you are doing what you can to serve your clients fairly and they will stay with you, bringing in way more than you could have made on one single transaction.

One-offing Your Projects

This one is SUPER easy for small business owners to do! It is always tempting to bring additional revenue to your company by taking on a project that is SORT OF like what you are doing now. A great example is our blogging product – we sell self-hosted wordpress blogs on Godaddy hosting. We have a 5 page, single spaced process to how to set it up and make it web ready ON GODADDY.

There are about a million other hosting companies and sometimes we have potential clients who would like to use their own preferred host. That is great for them, bad for us. Figuring out how to build blogs effectively on two different hosts would be inefficient, three would be terrible and ten would be absurd!

Make sure that you know EXACTLY what your company does and doesn’t do. Have referral partners that you can send people who don’t fit to. I KNOW – as entrepreneurs we think we can do anything! Just remember that learning to do something special for one customer may never transfer into revenue from anyone else and takes away time from your core business!

How To Pick New Small Business Opportunities

This month’s second small business marketing newsletter was about having multiple streams of income, which got me thinking about how we should choose those streams for ourselves. I have a confession to make…I am a huge proponent of multiple streams of income and I have an entrepreneurial spirit so I spend lots of time considering new things I COULD do to increase my business opportunities. This post is about what I (and you) SHOULD do to maximize my time and effort and minimize pain!

John Jonas gave the best description I ever heard about how to pick what to do. He said you should never get more than one step away from what you do now or more than one step away from the kind of customer you serve now when deciding new things to try.

Here is my one step approach for Marketing Artfully. The three main things I do for my business are blogs, information products and speaking. Because information products often have affiliate programs, starting my own or joining someone else’s is a good fit for me and makes sense to add to my resource page. Also, doing internet masterminds involves speaking (which is one of my things) so it is okay also.

ma_blocksSome other things for me that would be a good fit are things that provide services to entrepreneurs and small business owners, social networking items and other business related items.

Now here comes the brilliant part – when I get a great idea of something to do that is NOT one step away, I can drop it quickly. Instead of spending time and energy on researching something (or more likely diving into something) that will not help my business, I can easily determine if it is a good fit and, if not, move on!

This system works for ANY business! My buddy Deb Ward of Deborah Ward and Associates is a realtor in the Tampa Bay area. You can see from her blocks that there are some things that match well with her business model and some that don’t. She does coaching, sells real estate and owns a team of realtors. Getting referrals and owning shares in a title company are great for her, she could also add speaking to realtors easily because of her coaching focus. BUT, adding non-real estate related items would dilute her message and efforts.

dwa_blocksSo, to all you entrepreneurs out there considering new ventures…make sure that you are checking your blocks and keeping on track for success!!

Free Marketing – Small Business Owners Best Friend

What a time we live in! Marketing is free, I am SO happy about that and so confused that more businesses are not leveraging these channels.

Some history…in 1999 I worked at Digital Chainsaw, an internet company, where we built websites for small businesses. Many of these companies had no online presence and were trying to be early adopters. The cost to do the blueprint for the site (NOTHING was built) was $1,000 and the cost of building the site was from $20,000-$40,000. Now don’t get me wrong, there are still some businesses that have to have professionally built websites with big back-end programming, but most small businesses do not. The last thing about that time to tell you, it was deep in the heart of the tech boom and small business start-up money was flowing freely!

Fast forward 10 years to a new business start-up (if you are not doing marketing you are a start-up no matter how old your company is). I talk to more and more small business owners that do not have ANY resources for marketing. And THAT IS OKAY! I can’t even believe I can say that but it is true.

Today we are going to talk about FREE MARKETING! Upcoming posts will talk about low cost marketing and then big money marketing  – which still will not come close to the $20,000 that used to be the norm!

FREE MARKETING IDEAS!

  • Blogs – today you can have a blog set up in minutes for free! I suggest starting with www.wordpress.com but www.blogger.com works and is my geeky husband’s favorite. You can add widgets, customize the blog with your logo and get your marketing message out there! The drawback, for me, on free blogs is that it is hard to put contact forms on free blogs which will be part of our moderate pricing marketing. If you want to skip the free blog and go to the medium priced blog. I recommend a self-hosted wordpress blog for as low as $500!
  • Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – These social media sites allow you to put up a profile, communicate with your customers and friends, post links to your blog posts and set up FREE event notifications. They allow you to build a community around your brand and I can’t tell you how many referrals I have businesses get while watching my “friends”. If you would like to find out more, check out our social networking video series (not free but VERY affordable!)
  • FREE Websiteswww.wetpaint.com, www.squidoo.com and other sites will allow you to put a free page on the subject of your choice. When I was a realtor in Dunedin Florida a few years ago I put up this page, years later it is still there AND if you do a search on Squidoo for Dunedin real estate, my page is the only page. Do a search for Dunedin screen printing and NOTHING comes up, same for Dunedin Lawyer, Accountant, and cleaning. Imagine if you had the Tampa Bay area sewn up for your local business? What would that do for your bottom line? AND google LOVES these sites!

So these are my three best FREE marketing ideas. They cost you nothing but time and provide BIG results! If you have some other free ideas let me know in the comments…:)

Realtor Marketing – Market Like A Maniac Class Available December 22

Small business speaker and trainer Tara Jacobsen is teaching Market like a Maniac for Realtors in the Largo market center of Keller Williams Realty, December 22 2008 from 11-2. This class is designed to help realtors with an overview of things they can do to increase their business through marketing techniques and tips! Keller Williams is located at 2401 West Bay Dr #603 Largo, FL 33770. Call Tara to confirm at 727-415-9165.

Topics we will cover include, direct mail marketing, email marketing, low cost and free realtor marketing ideas, and more!

Everyone is welcome! A Helen Maday of Charles Rutenberg Realty, arecent attendee of one of Tara’s classes said,

Your training sessions today were so terrific – like I said that is the 1st time I’ve been at a seminar or training session that I didn’t put on my sunglasses even once (to take a quick snooze)!!!!! Also, I’d like to thank you for the personal help you gave me afterwards – that meant so much to me because it would have taken me forever to figure out what you did so quickly & effortlessly!!!!! You’re quite a gal & I feel very fortunate to have met you!! Keep up the GOOD WORK!!!!! Helen L. Maday REALTOR

Personalizing The Disney Theme Park – A Viral Masterpiece!

Video starts running automatically BUT you can pause it if you like! The content is an amazing act of customization, worth the 30 or so seconds!!! See fascinating article below

So I was reading my email today and my friend Lori Crawford, Realtor extraordinaire in Trinity Fl, sent me the absolute best email! Lot’s of people tease me and call me a Princess (my so-called friends and family) and so this viral marketing campaign from Disney is BRILLIANT. I was enthralled that my name was plastered all over Disney World and that Goofy even said my name once!

So what IS personalization?
Personalization can be done in a number of different ways:

  • The most basic is to have a person’s name in the greeting of your email. BUT every email program does not have the capability of adding a recipients’ name. You might want to consider using a newsletter template company like AWeber. While I know that many of you have Database programs that SAY they perform this function, few have really acceptable HTML formats. It will save you LOTS of time to use a third party solution!
  • Another way is to have the person’s name on a direct mail piece. You can use MS Publisher or Word to accomplish this OR use a reputable printer to do it professionally. I got a custom postcard from a local jewelry company that was addressed to John and Shelly. My husband’s name IS John but who the heck is Shelly?!?!?! They obviously had moved the Spouse’s name one place down – this is NOT a great situation for the mailer so make sure you spend a little bit more to have it done RIGHT!
  • These two aside there are a MILLION ways to personalize your message to your clients, use a hand written note, make a card that has pictures from magazines that you think your client would like, create a website that registers a persons name and calls them that throughout (obviously a high tech, high cost option).

So what is a viral campaign?

A viral campaign is something that spreads like the flu – person to person. This Disney campaign is BRILLIANT and VERY expensive to program originally, but may reap HUGE rewards for Disney! I sent it right out to my Mother In Law, a friend and a child I know. So Lori’s original message resulted in 4 direct new emails BUT then I blogged about it. You may be going – “How cool I should send it to X”. If just two of my readers resend it to 5 people we are now up to 15 people from Lori’s original email – zoinks!

So why does it work and how can you do this? Well viral campaigns are hard to start and even harder to sustain. For my small business clients (and myself), we do not have the capital to take a roll on spending $10,000-$50,000 that can support a technical viral campaign that may bomb.

Instead, write great content and then recommend that your client’s spread it! If you have a referral system, recommend that your clients use it. It may seem like they should KNOW that they could refer your stuff out, BUT THEY DON’T!

FYI – if you know any small business owners that would like this post, please do not hesitate forward it to them OR send a link to www.MarketingArtfully.com so they can sign up for automatic updates!

What makes you a expert? Small Business Success!

Small business success! So you think you are an expert? Who says? Sometimes people are “crowned” an expert on TV, Doctors are experts through training and education, and sometimes you can join a business association or get a designation within your industry.

More often than not though, it is what you DO that makes you an expert!

Books – Conventional wisdom says that if you want to become an expert on something read 3 books. That seems a little light to me BUT if you read three books and it sparks you to read 2 magazines and visit 5 associated websites AND talk to a human, I think you can consider yourself an expert.

Time – If you like something for long enough you will be come and expert! My father has a VW “Thing”. It is old and he doesn’t drive it very often BUT he has had it for a while so he has gone to VW meetups, he gets catalogs, he has read A LOT about it, he used to get a VW magazine. He knows A LOT about an obscure car that few people care about.

Interest – We think of computer guys as nerds, they think of themselves as geeks! They are REALLY interested in computers and how to make them work. They have websites like SlashDot.com where they can gather for the latest geeky news. They have causes like “Open Source” which means that everyone can contribute to programs to make them better because they have access to the source code. The great programmers that I know have rarely taken a computer science class. They don’t have time for it because they are too busy playing around on their computers!

Channels – You can even PICK what you might be interested in! I work with two great realtors who have decided to focus on Short Sales. Julia Fishel (The Pinellas Peach) works these in the Palm Harbor area and Deb Ward who works them in the middle of Pinellas County (ComeToClearwater.com). The interesting thing is that they are only about 10 miles apart BUT because of the nature of real estate are not direct competitors! Both have taken every class they can to learn about the current rules of short sales, they have found a great title company who can support them (Star Title) and they are actively looking for that kind of work!

Because I Said So – This is the one that seems the hardest to get a handle on! To be an expert, you just have to say that you are an expert and it will become so. If people think you are an expert, it makes you want to find out more about your chosen topic so you don’t look like a schmoe when people ask you about it. You will start to get mail about that subject. You should start a blog. You could join an association. But most of all the universe will say “dang this woman likes marketing and training, let’s give her some opportunities to do both!”.

Do Something – Make sure to do something (preferably everyday) that reinforces your expertise, write a blog post, attend an event where you tell people what you do, send out a direct mail piece that tells people what you do, SING IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!

Incoming search terms:

  • what makes you an expert in business

WIN Symposium – What a great bunch of gals!

My buddy Mary Dado of Business Writing, Ink and I participated in a Women In Networking Symposium last night. This was a group of almost a hundred women owned or operated businesses who got together to support each other. There were also MANY attendees who came to visit the booths!

I have to say that spending time with these women (and a few really fun guys…:) was thrilling! I met women who work with the elderly and their heirs to organize their lives, I spoke with people who did Mary Kay and Lia Sophia and Candle Delights, realtors and mortgage companies, chefs and hairdressers, and almost another other small businesses that you can think of. (Stay tuned for case studies!!!!)


Every one of these women, to a person, was thrilled to be doing what they are doing. They were excited about finding out how they could grow thier businesses through marketing and growing the number of people they could reach!

In this economy and with everything going on in America right now it was a real PLEASURE to find so many people who are excited about their work and what they can do to help thier families and their clients AND the economy!!!

Mary and I were energized to be there and are ON FIRE to work with as many small businesses as possible after hearing all the great ideas they have!!!!

Convergence – When Need Meets Timing!

So, I know that you have all been thinking about Convergence and what it means to your business? Right? Okay, well maybe not but it is important to your sales!

I was talking with a small business owner the other day and she said she felt more comfortable in a consultative role with her clients (her semi-exact quote is “I have never SOLD anyone anything, I help them figure out their needs and then help them achieve them”.

Well I think we can all benefit from that attitude, but at the end of the day EVERY business owner has to sell something to survive! From the top of wall street to the small business owner, we are in business to SELL something!

Okay, how does convergence matter to selling? Convergence (according to Wikipedia} “denotes the approach toward a definite value, as time goes on; or to a definite point, a common view or opinion, or toward a fixed or equilibrium state.” Holy buckets batman! What it means to me is the meeting of needs with a product.

As you can see in the graphic below, it is a movement from satisfaction with the status quo on through some pain to a buying decision. 

Convergence Slide

Convergence Slide

How about some example to clear things up!

Grocery Stores – In my area we used to have Albertson’s grocery stores. Now given a choice of ALL the grocery stores around the country, I would choose Wegmans but they are not in my area so I used to shop at Albertsons. I was in the green light for Albertsons. If they stayed the way they were, offering low prices, specials and half way decent service I would have continued to shop there indefinitely. They closed – sigh. So now I have to find a new grocery store (pain) and so I chose Publix. Not as cheap, cleaner and better service.

Web Browsers – I used Internet Explorer and Firefox until recently (these are different programs for accessing the internet). About a month ago Firefox did an update (that I hated) about the same time as Google offered a new browser Chrome. Well I tried the new browser and I like it! It has some great google features in addition to all the things that I had liked about Firefox. I would NOT have been in the market for a new browser had Firefox not made my back button big (I know – a stupid reason to switch) but since I was, Chrome came out at a good time for me to adopt it.

Homebuyers – My husband and I are considering moving to Colorado (our move is NOT a sure thing at this point) so I am going on websites to try and see what houses are available in the couple of towns we think we MIGHT like to live in. I DO NOT need to talk to a realtor at this point so I have not registered with any websites. I am in the green area of need, but there is no pain. Say that Johnny’s transfer comes through and he moves out there ahead of me, leaving me with 2 dogs, a cat, a mother-in-law and 2 more dogs. THAT IS PAIN! I will be SERIOUSLY motivated to find a realtor – RIGHT NOW – and get house hunting.

In each of these cases a change happens to the status quo of a buyer’s life. It is VERY hard to make enough noise in the marketplace to cause a change to people who are satisfied with a product that is working great for them BUT if they have a broken product or system OR no product or system and pain happens, they will be looking for help. 

This is where you come in with your direct mail, websites and emails. If you have been talking to that person about how your product, service or store can help them solve their problems, you can capitalize on their need! If you have built a great website that is easy to find on the search engines with lots of information about your product, services or store, they will find you and approach you for help. 

Make sure your marketing house is in order so that you can capitalize on changes in the marketplace that will occur in your favor! Advertise to people who MIGHT need your services so that when they DO need your services you are ready to sell them something!

How To Increase Your Real Estate Website Hits – What Does A Girl Have To Do To Get Noticed?

STOP – Think about this BEFORE you spend a ton of money on Adwords or paid search engine listings!!!

The first thing you want to think about when trying to increase your website hits is are you going for quantity or quality? You can get great traffic to your site but if it is wrong kind of traffic (ie people who don’t care about what you have to offer and who will not turn into readers or use your services) what does the number matter? I know people with HUGE numbers of visitors who don’t have the volume of sales that should go along with those numbers. Just make sure that you are fishing for the right kind of traffic.

You can now resume your reading….

I don’t pay for websites hits very often. I did when I started my site just to get going and also do currently when I am trying to sell a specific product or service (like the 33 Touch Program). But in general I use the power of the internet to bring people to me.

I get hits on my Google Analytics that say my readers come the most from Active Rain (54 in the last month), Google (53 in the last month) and triiibes (20 in the last month). I also got clicks from 33 other sources in the last 30 days.

What does all that mean to me and how does it affect my readership and business? I have great readers and quality traffic. My average time spent on my site for the last month is 3:40 (3 minutes, 40 seconds), the average number of pages per visit is 2.39 and 49.31% of the people are new visits.

I did NOT have a million visitors (I had 361) but the ones that I do have come, stay and talk to me. I am a trusted source for information about marketing to realtors and have built a strong business with good customers.

So what can YOU do to increase the hits to your real estate or small business website?

  1. Name your blog and blog posts something people will search for or something you want to be known for. I wrote an ezine article about Niche Marketing For Realtors which drives traffic to MA. It ranks #2 on page 2 for google and #2 on page 1 for yahoo. Marketing Artfully ranks #1 on Google and not in the first 10 pages of Yahoo for Niche Marketing For Realtors. Which leads us to…
  2. Do not put all your eggs in one basket! Spread the love around!!! Make sure you have multiple streams of traffic to your main website. You can write articles at www.ezinearticles.com, set up a squidoo lens on a certain topic like I did for Real Estate Marketing Pro, or just post your Craigs List listings with a link back to your website.
  3. Join some social media websites like Linked In, Twitter or Active Rain.
  4. Comment on other peoples blogs, they will visit yours and may sign up to get your emails or feeds!
  5. Last but not least, be interesting! Do not make your stuff one long sales pitch. Think “what if I was reading this? Would I be interested if I did not own the company?”. Give value, link back to people you enjoy reading about. Answer readers comments, show them that you appreciate their readership. And ALWAYS talk about something you like! If you do not like your topic it will be PAINFUL to write every week, let alone every day!
  6.  

    Oh, did I mention, every one of those items are FREE!

Incoming search terms:

  • steps for getting real estate website hits
  • HOW TO INCREASE YOUR REAL ESTATE BUSINESS

B2B or B2C – What great companies like Listingbook and Keller Williams are doing right (and wrong)

In this day and age, the line between Business To Business (B2B) and Business To Consumer (B2C) has gotten blurred. Many consumers are small business owners (like realtors) and all companies are made up of consumers. The internet has leveled the playing field for many but has also allowed us to get complacent about making sure we know our focus.

Business to business is generally based on the model that the good of the many outweighs the good of the few (my last star trek quote I promise!). With this model you try and make/market you product so that it appeals to most types of businesses. Business to consumer is the good of the few – they want to know what is in it for them and do not care about anything your product has that does not relate to their world view.

Does that mean that we have to develop a product for each and every one of those people. That we need to limit our services to a niche that we have chosen and smite everyone that comes along who does not fit into that niche – NO!

What we need to do is market to those different groups differently. The nice thing about this is that it basically costs thought, paper and time. No big development budget, just lots of brain cells.

Let’s look at Listingbook first (I contract with them to teach – I did this for free before I came on board because I SO believed in the product). They already have a niche, providing MLS internet services to realtors for their clients.

They also have a problem. One of the focuses of their niche is B2B, contracting with MLSs to use their data and then working at the broker level to provide additional value added services at an office level. Their other focus is B2C (realtors are consumers at this point rather than businesses).

What works for B2B is hard to extrapolate to the individual agent level. BUT WAIT! They can’t be everything to everyone you say, they have to build something that will have enough bells and whistles to sell to the MLSs and the brokers you say. This is where the brain cells and marketing come in!

Realtors have problems to solve. How to get more buyers, how to get more sellers, how to keep those sellers happy over a long sales cycle, how to market themselves while still conducting business. Here is the crazy thing – they all think they are unique. They all want to know what is in it for them and making it personal is a niche thing that is relatively easy to solve.

Instead of trying to market to all the different agents, segment them into groups and only show them the features of the product that are relevent to their lives and businesses. Have a class for buyers agents, have a class for sellers agents, have a class showing how to use the product for FSBOs and Expireds, for investors, for lead generating.

BUT WAIT AGAIN! Listingbook does more than that you say, it can revolutionize your whole business you say. Well CONSUMERS don’t want revolution. They want solutions – to their problems!

Now let’s take a peek at Keller Williams (another great company – I am an agent there). They also have a B2B level where they are working with business owners who have market centers (offices) and team leaders (managers). Their consumers are also realtors. What I think they do particularly well is rely on user generated content to reach their customers. The market centers allow KW agents to teach classes and conduct training in their specialty (I teach marketing, John Dietz teaches FSBOs, etc.). They also provide support on a micro level by having the team leaders coach the agents individually.

What they do have is a problem with perception. There is a perception in the minds of non-KW agents that there is A LOT of unsolicited micro managing and that they HAVE to go to classes. What KW doesn’t understandd is how to frame their message so that it is not a sales pitch for KW but a solution for how to do business in the information age of real estate.

Homebuyers and Sellers need something different from realtors today. They HAVE access to the MLS for the most part. The information is there for them and they are using it freely. What realtors bring to the table is knowledge and experience and that is the message that KW helps their agents to get out to the public through training, coaching and systems.

So Realtors, now is my time to take a shot at you! Are you aware of what your focus is? Are you B2B or B2C. Are you both? Could you be both?

In today’s market there are scads of opportunity to be B2B. Banks need help selling their inventory through REO sales. That is a message that you could send. Your vendors are hurting too, could you work with them to cross sell to your databases? Handymen know people who are getting ready to move, bug guys know people who need a bigger house, and banks know who has gotten a home loan approval.

On the B2C front, are you framing your message to “what’s in it for them?”. Are you talking to niches like sellers, buyers, first timers, baby boomers, dog owners, condo dwellers and water lovers? Are you saying it in a way that makes sense to you OR are you saying it in a way that appeals to them? You do not have to change your services, just frame them in a way that will provide a message that consumers can understand and appreciate.

Selling Cat Books to Real Men!

So I had an epiphanie the other day! I was driving along and noticed a very attractive man walking along the side of the road. He was obviously a he-man and spent time lifting weights and taking care of himself. He was sauntering along taking in the day and enjoying himself.

At the same time I was listenting to an ebook that was saying that they would never “read a book where a cat solved a mystery”. I LOVE BOOKS where cats solve mysteries!!! BUT I thought “that that guy would NEVER buy a book with a mystery solving cat”!

I could spend days, years and a million dollars selling cat loving, mystery solving books to that guy and he would still NEVER buy one!

 

Courtesy JWinfred

He will NOT buy a mystery solving cat book!

Make sure you know who your target market is – if you are a middle aged, fun loving woman, DO NOT try to act cool and reach teenagers on their level – you will just make a complete jerk of yourself! If you are a starched shirted, businessman – DO NOT try to be one of the girls, you will make a complete jerk of yourself!

 

Make sure you know who your target customer is and that you are not trying to put a round peg in a square hole!

Tin Cup – When do you give up?

So I LOVE the movie Tin Cup with Kevin Costner! It is a great analogy for life – know when you should quit, or at least try something else.

Basically the plot is a guy who is trying to qualify for the professional golf tour who has sabotaged himself throughtout his career and who gets his final chance at the last hole of the US Open. He could lay up or try for the green. He chooses to try, and try and try – rather than going for the safe shot.

Well this week I “tin cupped”. I have written a great ebook on  branding and tried to upload a post that offered the book for free with a sign up form. Because of how my database works, the form “blows up” the wordpress form and I only  get one chance to upload it with no changes. The first time I tried it was a total debacle. The second time I forgot to add catagories, the third time, I forget what happened but by this time I was just flailing away at it!

Luckily I had a function to attend and had to stop posting and deleting. The problem is that each time I post, my loyal email readers get a copy so at that point they were on email 3 with no actual post in sight! This is a great way to drive away your readers and I should have stopped after 1 and gone to plan B which is to post a webpage which bothers no one!

You NEED to know when you are fustrastrated and not being productive and stop. Step away from the computer and try another time. Stop making an ass of yourself and do something else until you can come back with a clear (and productive head).

Basically, what I am I am saying is sorry to my email readers and for the rest of you, there will be a great ebook soon BUT until I can post the link without imploding personally I am taking a break!

Do What You Do and They Can Do What They Do!

Do What You Do and They Can Do What They Do! I know this seems very deep and cryptic BUT it is true!

I was with some of my favorite investor realtors today (Fred Collis & Larry Arth) today and we got to talking about what we can do to generate more leads (their idea of a great lead is Bird Dog who can help them get the word out about real estate investment opportunities). Fred was talking about how his coach keeps giving him tasks which he doesn’t always complete. I think the operative part of that is his coach GIVES him tasks.

I have taught a BUNCH of agents lead generating. In each class I ask the agents and small business owners what they are currently doing. They ALWAYS say that doesn’t matter, that they want to know WHAT to do. I ALWAYS say that they will really only do what they do right now, but more!

If they make calls, they will make calls to more or different people, but they will NOT start blogging on a daily basis if they don’t like to write. If they blog every day and send tons of emails but NEVER pick up the phone, they will not suddenly start making 20 phone calls a day! (I KNOW – there are always exceptions to the rule BUT generally people will do what they do!)

What brought this home for me today was the developer we met with! He is a GREAT charismatic speaker who has been able in the past to sell LOTS because he was able to talk with each client personally in either seminars or on the phone. We are working to market these programs to LOTS of Bird Dogs who have LOTS of clients – there is NO WAY he can talk to 50 clients of 50 Bird Dogs (or over 2,500 people!).

We developed a way to get standardized info out and also to allow him to “talk” to people via a webinar on the internet! We will also record him so he can get his message out via MP3s. Even though these are great ideas, we also need to develop marketing materials for Larry and Fred to get out to the Bird Dogs. The developer never had to do this before because he talked to everyone directly and he isn’t very excited about doing it now BUT to grow the number of people they can reach he will have to adapt or go extinct!

The great thing about this situation is that the Developer has hired us to help him market to new people while maintaining the practices that made him successful in the past! If you are NEVER going to do something then hire someone else to do it so you can concentrate on doing the “fun” tasks you like to do!

Relevancy and Niches

I got an email last night from a lady who runs the ABC School of Polish. She seemed VERY polite and offered to put a link to my site on her site if I put link to her site on mine.

On the face of it, this seems like a good idea, you can never have too many links right? Also, I did attend the Polish National Alliance College in Cambridge Springs, PA for a couple of years so I like the whole Polish concept (subsequently the college was shut down and turned into a women’s prison, guess I got out of there just in time!)

BUT, here’s the kicker. What is in for me OR them to have a link to each other’s sites. I do not think that people who are looking for great Polish holidays are going to come from my marketing website. I also do not think that people who are thinking about taking Polish classes or going on holiday are going to suddenly have a yearning to learn more about niche marketing.

This practice is called link building and is designed to trick the search engines into thinking that you are VERY popular world wide, with links from all over the globe. The search engines can figure this trick out easily, but more important, people visiting my site can figure out that I have a huge links page with nothing relevant to marketing and leave (I hate when people leave!)

If you are going to exchange links with people, make sure they are a complimentary site. I could link to mail houses, printing companies, articles about advertising, niche marketing tips and tricks, realtor websites, internet marketing sites, etc. which would INCREASE my relevancy in the search engines…rather than just adding another anonymous link.

So Anna, thank you for your kind offer but count me out. I would rather have one good link than 100 mediocre links diluting my brand!

Constant Contact – Let’s Play Hide and Seek!

While I was an active realtor I was VERY good at keeping in touch with my clients and prospects. It was my favorite part of the job (which is why I am now helping agents and small business owners with their marketing instead of actively working with clients)!

Lead generating is like a really neat game of hide and seek with the prize being someone calling or emailing you with an opportunity! There is nothing more fulfilling than preparing a well thought out marketing piece, generating the content, doing the sticky-sticky of the labels and stamps, then sending it out into the world and having someone notice it and contact you! (I KNOW – I really need help with this, like a marketing 12-step program)

What I have found is that not everyone loves this part of owning a business. It can sometimes seem overwhelming and can fall by the wayside while you are busy doing your “real” job. It can seem really pointless to get MORE business when you are feeling swamped by the business you already have BUT… if you wait until you are less busy then you have lulls in your work (and income).

Some tips to make your marketing less intimidating:

  • Do what you like to do (Part 1)! If you like to talk to people then do it more – join a small business networking group, go out for dinner at the same place and get to know the clients and staff (tell them what you do and they WILL refer you!), visit businesses and tell them about your service and how it can help them.
  • Do what you like to do (Part 2)! If you like to talk on the phone do it more – call your friends and remind them that you give great service, call your prospects, call your past clients. Make it a part of your daily routine and it will get easier – I promise!
  • Do what you like to do (Part 3)! If you are an online guru do that more – send emails with a signature line from your business, have a great website to capture leads, comment on blogs with a link to your site. Internet marketing is a VERY affordable way to go!
  • Mail stuff out – Don’t wait until you have the “best” direct mail piece or the most extensive marketing plan finalized, send something. Send just listed or just sold postcards, send your brochure, send a market snapshot or a great article you found, send out helpful tips for your industry, just do it!
  • Start an email list – Find out how to set up an email list subscription on your site (I use www.feedburner.com) OR call everyone you know and tell them you are setting up a GREAT mailing and need their email address. DO NOT SPAM them! Make sure you send relevant content and not too often.

Marketing is fun and anyone can do it (remember that at the end of it you will have new clients to work with!) I have one realtor friend who gets a new client EVERY time she sends out her newsletter! It takes her a little money and a while to send them, BUT knowing that it gets her results makes it all worthwhile. While you may never be a marketing nut like me, think of it like a game of hide and seek or an Easter egg hunt and it may seem easier!

PS – If you are a realtor and would like to hand off some of the work to us visit our 33 Touch page for more info!

Small Businessses – How To Survive In A Down Market

I have a great admiration for small business owners! The entrepreneurial inspiration hits and they are ready to go out in the world and start selling (either products or services).

I am currently doing work for a fabulous mortgage banker, Brian P. Forrester (who is honest and hardworking and doing great right now, despite the downturn his entire market has taken), some STUPENDOUS realtors, a great friend and business partner Tammy Leventis at Mail Marketing and some other start up small businesses.

All are making it happen in a market that is not easy and getting harder by the day. BUT they have decided that a downturn in the market is a great time to increase their market share through branding and exposing themselves to the market with a focused message!

What are some things you can do to make an impact? Here are my top ten! I know – you have heard of these before. There is no magic here, just common sense.

  1. Have a website or blog that allows you to communicate with other people – this is the most affordable and user friendly way to make an impact right now. People ARE looking for your services and products online, can they find you?
  2. Make sure your business card is distinct and DOES NOT have a hundred ways to contact you – one number, one email, address and fax – anything else confuses the user and they do not know which means to use to get a hold of you!!!
  3. Have a brochure – This should list a little about you and then have your services. It provides a way for people to learn about what you offer without you having to tell them.
  4. Contact your clients (part 1 CALL THEM) - These are people you work with or have in the past. They should like and respect you. They should refer you to their friends. If they do not like you, take them out of your database and free your soul for people to work with who DO like you. Now call them. They like you, remember, and will NOT be offended if you pick up the phone to communicate with them. Have something interesting to say, say it, tell them you like them too, ask for a referral or two, hang up. See how easy that was!
  5. Contact your clients (part 2 MAIL THEM) – Anyone who knows me knows this is MUCH easier for me than calling (I don’t talk to people on the phone normally). Mailing stuff to people works. You can send them a postcard with your services or testimonials or information. You can send them newsletters or great articles you have found that are relevant to your industry. You can even send them recipe cards (I CANNOT believe I just said that!!!…:) BUT whatever you do, send them something on a regular basis.
  6. Contact your clients (part 3 EMAIL THEM) – All of us get emails every day. We take the time to read those that are personal and from friends and contacts who we KNOW are going to be interesting and relevant. This is the opposite of the mailing someone, sending just anything will not do. You risk being added to the spam list or removed from their approved email list EVERY time you send something. DO NOT send recipe emails if you are a pest control company, do not send funny emails if you are a mortician, DO send emails that are timely and will ADD to your readers knowledge or life. DO NOT spam people.
  7. Send personal notes – When you get a personal note it makes you feel nice. You know someone has taken the time to think of you, put pen to paper and then added a stamp. They have walked to the mail box or drop off point. Make sure your personal notecards are professional. They can brand your company or have inspirational quotes or just be pretty. They DO NOT have to be long, just a sentance or two to let someone know you have thought of them. DO NOT send personal notes from a mass mail company, it is disingenuous.
  8. Network - Go to events with your co-workers, go to Charity functions, go to sporting events, amusement parks, open houses. Go to service clubs and formal networking events. When someone asks you if you want to do something, say yes. Ask someone you do not normally spend time with to lunch and learn more about them. Make time to talk to your friends. In today’s world we hear constantly about time management, but we rarely here about making time for people. Listen to them, most are really interesting.
  9. Do what you say you are going to – The best indication that you are going to succeed is doing what you say you will. DO NOT promise a turn around time of 1 day if something takes 3 days. Under promise and over deliver. Do more than you said you would. Surprise someone with something they did not expect. Ask what your customer wants and give them that.
  10. DRUMROLL PLEASE – Get a Niche (or two) – Figure out what you do well and do that more. Give the general public a way to catagorize you in their mind so that they can refer people to you. Give great customer service, market their home to 20 different places, capitalize on your Irish-ness, specialize in Investors, work a farm, always start your appointments on time, be a stable influence in unstable times, focus on golfers, bowlers, non-profits or car dealers.

Thanks for listening.

The WOW Factor – Arnold Jewelers

So the price of gold is high right now and I had some lying around that I was not using (old rings, a couple of old chains, etc.) so I grabbed my Dad and we headed down to Arnold Jewelers. I went because my Mother-In-Law had gone there and said the owner was great and seemed honest! (word-of-mouth at its finest).

Well, Ray, the owner WAS nice and was very gentle with me when he explained that my wedding ring was in fact gold and not the platinum that I had given the jeweler to craft the ring from. I watched him tell another lady that her silverware was not sterling but was only gold plated stainless, which he did with obvious compassion but a no-nonsense attitude. He was just the bearer of bad news, not the one that was responsible for it. (Realtors take note! It was not his fault that my rings were not what I expected or paid for, nor he didn’t try to fix that by anything he could do – he just told me like it was and I totally appreciated it!)

I wound up buying a ring set (SO PRETTY) and getting some money for my old gold. AND I am blogging about the great customer service, AND I am telling my friends to go there – a little out of the way for most of them BUT worth the trip to deal with someone who is honest!

Do your customers brag about you and the work you do? Do they tell all their friends? Do you ask them to tell all their friends? If you are doing a great job and always looking out for their best interests you WILL succeed and be of help to the people you serve!

If you are in the Tampa Bay area, here is the address – tell Ray I sent you!

Arnold Jewelers
12293 Seminole Blvd Largo Florida
Phone 727-586-0414
Toll Free 877-619-3919

How much more would you pay?

Having a niche or specialization makes sense for your marketing efforts and for getting a cohesive message out to the marketplace. It makes it easier to figure out what to to do (or what not to do). But it also allows you to charge more for your products or services. Say your store specializes in plumbing fixtures and is the only one in town with the new Delta faucet – you can charge more for the convenience of getting it quickly, not having to order it and wait to have it shipped. If you know how to do faux painting and it becomes a fad, you can charge more than a regular painter because of your expertise. Sometimes a niche is a matter of life or death.

When he got in trouble for misrepresenting Enron’s profits, Kenneth Lay did not hire a lawyer from the yellow pages who was a generalist. He hired high powered attorney, Michael W. Ramsey who specializes in corporate law and who had successfully defended numerous white collar clients. When Mr. Ramsey suffered a heart attack and another lawyer stepped in, the outcome of the case was very different than originally projected. About how it affected the verdict (Mr. Lay was found guilty of fraud and conspiracy);

“This is the major what-if in this case,” said Joel M. Androphy, a criminal defense lawyer in Houston. “You can’t just replace Ramsey’s years of experience in not only defending people but in communicating with jurors.”

But it isn’t all about the money! You can also become pickier about who you work with because you will have more choices. When you are the only one who knows how to fix Jaguars in a 100 mile radius you can charge more AND choose to fire your customers who pay slow or who are high maintenance. You can work with the people who like you and respect the value you bring to your work.

Get a niche. Do a tremendous job. Get fabulous clients.

Not just a pretty face!

Marketing Artfully Business CardWhat is the one thing you can do to give yourself instant credibility? Have some FABULOUS collateral made!

When I started as a realtor the one thing that I did which helped me most was to design some really impressive marketing materials. When I went on a listing appointment I could feel confident that my materials would be a great representation of my level of committment and professionalism. That committment included providing great representation to my clients and to spending all my time learning my real estate skills, not dealing with the fact that I was a new agent.

What kinds of collateral do you need? The most basic answer is you MUST have a great business card. I am not a fan of the head shot cards, enough said. What you need to make sure you have is enough contact information that someone could reach you by whatever means they prefer (mail, phone or email). Having 3 or 4 ways to reach you via phone means that they may have to have to chase you down and that is never a good sign!

Tri-fold Brochure – Whether you are a small business owner or a realtor this one HUGE. It allows you to give a comprehensive look at your background and credentials as well as all the products and services you can offer your clients. It is great for leaving behind after a sales appointment, listing presentation or a buyer appointment. It is also good for networking events and for open houses where you might want to have something more than a sales sheet to leave behind. I prefer to have my Tri-folds act as a mailer also so that if I want to send them I do not have to put them in an envelope when mailing.

Presentation Cover – On any sales call you make you need to have a professionally designed cover that matches your marketing materials. Use it for sales proposals, RFPs, listing presentations and buyer appointment books.

Oversized Postcard – Last but certainly not least you should have a postcard that you can pop into the mail. I recommend having a BUNCH of different ones depending on the situation that you encounter, BUT to start, get one good solid postcard that covers most of your products and services. He

How much of each should you order? This is a tough one since ordering larger quantities can reduce the per piece price BUT with the new color print shops online I would not order terribly expensive or large quantities of any one item. Your services may change and if you have thousands of pieces you will have to throw them out. Also I have done jobs in the past for clients who ordered REALLY top of the line materials and then were hesitant to send them out – if you have to think for one moment whether you can afford to send a prospect a card or brochure you have spent too much!

If you can’t tell I am a HUGE fan of having professional marketing materials and think EVERYONE in business should have them also!

Hire Who? Hire You!

So I was reading a blog post this week about asking for business*. Basically the author said that too many times online we have all this great information available and OF COURSE someone would know to send you an email to request your services! But do you ask them directly? Do you ask for the business the way that you would if you were face to face? I always joked around about “three copies press hard”, meaning that I was staying until I got a listing agreement unless it was a listing I wanted to turn down.

I am also very good in person about explaining the next steps in the process. “After we do the analysis of your needs I will send you a written inspection report by Tuesday” or “I will call you on Thursday to set up a time for the photographer to come out”.  Online we forget to set expectations and so sometimes inadvertantly disappoint people who are expecting a certain level of service. If your auto responder says you will get back within the next 24 hours and fail to mention that you take weekends off, they could be VERY put out when you answer their Friday email on Monday morning!

This time I have practiced what I am preaching! I have added a “Hire Me” button and listed some of my services. In the future I will have a cool email form with a dropdown box so they can tell me exactly what they are interested in and I can capture their contact information BUT for now at least they know I want them to call me! I will also have additional products  with cool links to flyers so they can see everything I have to offer, but what if they want to hire me before then?

DO NOT wait until everything is perfect before you start. Start today. I am including a variety of “hire me” buttons for you to use on your site! Please feel free to copy any of them and put it on your site so someone can hire YOU! All I ask is that you post a comment here so we can all see your site with the “hire me” button!!!!

hire me button

hire me button
hire me button
hire me button
hire me button

* If it was your post please let me know and I will add a link!!!!

Have A Blog, Make New Friends!

So you already know that you can make friends by having a blog (other bloggers will come to see your posts and you can visit theirs) BUT what about in the real world? Who reads your posts?

I know that Diane Nelson (Pinellas County Tax Collector) does! How do I know that? Well I was in Rotary today and she mentioned that she had seen my purple cow post on The Tara And Sheila Show Blog about how she has revolutionized the tax collecting business:

Here in Pinellas County we have a REALLY weird situation – we like going to the tax collector’s office to pay our bills! How could that be you ask? To know what a turn around this is, you have to understand that just a few years ago it would take HOURS to get anything from your tax bill to renewing your license. Since Diane Nelson took over as the Tax Collector, our public service has turned into a purple cow. There is an efficient system for getting to the right person who can help you fastest. Her staff is knowledgable and pleasant and it usually takes less than 20 minutes to get in and out of there. As she said, more than one person has told her what a PLEASURE it is to give her their money – way to go Diane!

So what does that mean for my business? Who else has seen that? Sometimes it is hard to know what the results of a blog post may be. You may not find out until months later that it made a difference to someone’s business or your own. DO NOT start a blog thinking that you will get a customer tomorrow. DO NOT start a blog thinking that it will magically turn around your business. DO start a blog if you are passionate enough about something to write about it at least a few times a week. DO start a blog if you want to talk with people in a public forum about matters that are important to you.

A blog is different from a website, a blog allows people to talk back to you. They can agree or disagree with you, they can add to the conversation, you can become a expert and give advice. It is a wonderful medium for opening communication with people you didn’t even know were reading!

Niche Marketing – Business Writing, Ink.

So it was a great day in marketing! I spent some time with a wonderful woman today figuring out what her business model would look like and helping to pick a name and position for that business. I thought you might like to see what the process looks like!

Focusing On Her Goals - We spent some time looking at what kinds of work she would like to do. She wants to do writing projects for businesses (go figure with a name like Business Writing, Ink.) including documenting systems, blog content, technical or how to manuals and other specific writing assignments. We figured out that she DOES NOT want to write for consumers, no resumes or other end user type documents.

Brainstorming Names – We then hit the thesaurus to try and figure out words that would convey her message. We looked at “composing” as in composing documents and thought that we could maybe incorporate a musical theme. We looked at write and pen and script and ink. When we got to ink we had a revelation! Ink sounds like Inc. for incorporated. It was a very exciting time for us because when we paired that with Business Writing it sounded like a winner! Then we found that http://www.businesswritingink.com AND http://www.BusinessWritingInc.com were both available. I felt that it was important to find a url that would be creative enough to be interesting, but also to be able to point the correct spelling to the main site in case someone was sounding out the business name.

Logo Design – Now that we had a name we looked for images that would convey the writing aspect of the name. We checked out pen looking brackets, a document scroll and a couple of different kinds of inkwells. As of now the final inkwell has not been established, but I like the one below the best! We also looked for a font that would convey an old world look but was still creative. Below is the final look that we finished today. There may be some tweaking to do yet but it should be something like this:

Business Writing Ink Logo

What I love about this logo is the punctuation and how it makes total sense with the business that she is in. The fun part is that it is technically correct, but also helps to make humans recognize that Ink. represents Inc. in this example.

We finished a couple of more housekeeping issues like registering the urls and setting up her email address. We will be working on getting her blog / website set up soon and then she should be off to the races! Like I said to start – a very good day in marketing!

What Are You Trying To Sell?

Today Seth Godin posted a PDF about the record industry and how they HAVE to change their model. It got me thinking about what they are trying to sell (records that we can’t copy and the fact that we should maintain their industry just as it is). Seth said what they SHOULD be trying to sell is the cool stuff that we actually like and will pay for – information about our favorite artists, backstage passes, concert tickets and other things that have NOTHING to do with paying $20 for a CD.

So what ARE you trying to sell? It really does make a difference because then you can give everything else away for FREE!

Why am I giving away all this information about how to do things for your niche? How to set up a blog, how to market your services or products and how to brand yourself. I am VERY clear about what I am selling so I can give everything else away for free. I like to figure out what other people are selling and tell them fun ways to do it. I like to talk to Realtors and find out what makes them special and then help them find ways to express that special-ness. I like to sit with people I like and talk about how to position their paintball business to get more corporate clients. I am selling IDEAS so anything that requires implementing those ideas I can give away for free!

I have a bunch of photographers in my family. They take pictures ALL the time and they have captured HUNDREDS of great images (the header features pictures by my husband John Jacobsen and my MIL Linda Jacobsen – thanks guys!). They post their pictures online and lots of people we know “borrow” them for their blogs or websites. I am sure that people we don’t know borrow them also. I sent one of my clients to John’s blog the other day and she fell in love with his style. She wants a print. THAT is where John can SELL something. The images on the internet are not large enough to print well. He should let EVERYONE use his images for free with a link to his blog so that they can buy prints of the ones that they like.  He is not going to do that right now because photography is a hobby and that feels like work to him BUT HE COULD! If I were a photographer this would seem like a much better way to make money than to schlep around taking pictures of weddings or dogs or families. It would let you take pictures of whatever you like and market them to people who like them too!

Because I am in the real estate business I read a lot of real estate blogs. Currently there is a huge controversy going on in the blog world and on TV about DOM (days on market). Consumers want to know how many days a property has been on the market – not just how long the current listing has been in the MLS. I think they should have that access. The National Association of Realtors is trying to hang on to the way it WAS instead of focusing on how to make the industry better. In the past Realtors provided access to information that everyone didn’t have – that is not true anymore. What Realtors provide now is the knoledge and experience that consumers do not have, THAT is what NAR should be selling NOT trying to hang on to an outdated business model that puts limits on the information that the public has access to.

If you are reading this post because you are thinking of starting your own business or trying to learn how to market your currrent company, focus on what you are trying to SELL. It will make firguring out what to DO so much easier!

Niche Marketing IS My Niche! – How I Started

So how come niche marketing is such a passion? I love helping other people discover what is special about them or their business and then thinking of ways for them to market that specialness! Also, marketing in general is a passion of mine. I spend my free time reading blogs about marketing, listening to books about marketing and critiquing EVERY ad I see (my husband does NOT think that is a feature!)

Basically it is my hobby. Since I have been working on it for a bit I thought I would let you know what I have done to date and what the results have been!

  1. Listened to Internet Business Mastery (a GREAT podcast on iTunes that helps entrepreneurs with establishing an online business)
  2. Got the idea
  3. Did something (This is where most people get hung up! If you have a great idea start working on it. Get a logo, set up a blog, start making notes to yourself in your blackberry whenever you think about it.)
  4. Brainstormed with a friend for a couple of months about how to get started, what we were going to do (his niche is Teaching Landlording Skills) and how were were going to do it.
  5. Listened to a great speaker who told me that I should have multiple streams of income (something I had heard NUMEROUS times before but that I had to hear at that moment to get this thing going!)
  6. Set up the blog. It has taken me about 6 hours to get it going, not counting writing posts. Considering I have about 80 hours into my real estate website, that is truly a miracle!
  7. Sent out a link to the blog out to my marketing friends, they are all interested in marketing or technology in some way. The nice thing was I got positive feedback! If they had said “that’s nice” I would have gone back and re-worked my concept.
  8. Submitted my blog to google. It can take a while for the google spiders to visit so you can do this early in the game. I messed up though since I did not have any title tags or descriptions for the site yet so there is a link but no info about what the site is about – don’t do that!
  9. Scheduled two teaching seminars. Because I already teach at these offices I could have some leeway about what my topic would be. I limited the class to 10 people so that we could really focus on them and discovering what their niche should be. I also let them know that by coming to the class they agreed to allow me to use their situations in my upcoming eBook.
  10. I sent out emails inviting the agents to sign up for my class. Here is the invitation. It is a month away and I only have 3 spots left at the Palm Harbor office!
  11. I sent out a press release for my new site. I use www.free-press-release.com. You can send it out for free or spend $1 for a more special one. It costs $5 to promote it. I made sure to make the headline and description interesting to humans so that someone might want to read it. If you look at most press releases they are all about the company NOT the reader! In the past press releases were sent to busy editors and they determined if the release was “news” that they should assign to a reporter to write the interesting part. Now you send out press releases to generate interest WITHOUT a reporter to do the in-between part, make sure that your title and description are compelling enough to get a human to read it. Here is the press release.
  12. I sent out an email to my marketing friends asking them to click on my free press release link. Humans like to read what other humans like to read. I know that is VERY deep! Basically what I mean is that when you see a press release on a huge page of press releases and it has 4,000 clicks you ASSUME that it is interesting. If you see that it has 2 clicks you are less likely to read it. (It has to be said that my marketing friends are very patient and wonderful people!)
  13. Miscellaneous results – I got an email from a Team Leader in Illinois who asked if he could use and refer to my site as he sets up a new office in order to teach his agents about niche marketing. ABSOLUTELY!
  14. Miscellaneous results – Kris Berg (one of my favorite bloggers) commented on my site. As she has provided me with hours of interesting blogging, I am SO happy to be able to return the favor!
  15. Used SEO Studio to submit my website to various and assorted search engines. There is a free version that allows you do submissions and track how well your site ranks in the search engines. I have no results to date and the only thing that registers at all is www.marketingartfully.com. (Day 7)
  16. Total visitors to date 41 (Day 7)
  17. Here are the keywords I am currently using (niche, marketing, niche marketing, branding, realtors, realtor, real esate, positioning, real estate marketing, marketing for realtors, small business marketing, marketing for small businesses, small business addvertising, advertising, business, small, selling, tips, tricks). I only have 18 at this point but will work with some keyword suggestion tools to get that number up! I used Google’s Keyword Tool to come up with some more keywords (niche marketing blog, niche marketing products, examples of niche marketing, choosing a niche market, niche market advertising, niche marketing websites, free niche marketing). The way I chose these was by looking at the advertiser competition (left column) and avoiding ones that were popular and then looking at the average search volume (right column) to see what people were actually looking for. The nice thing about these new terms is it lets me know what would be good blog subjects!
  18. I just signed up for Mixx a social bookmarking site that lets me see things that are interesting to me and one of those things was a GREAT tool to check how your site is doing called Site Yogi. It shows who is linked to you, where you stand to google and SO much more. It is my very favorite thing today!!!!

I will update this page as I accomplish more and let you know the results!

Niche Marketing and Customer Service Go Hand In Hand

Niche marketing and customer service are vital to building your small business marketing brand. Having a niche makes your ALL of your marketing marketing efforts easier.

If something does not fit in with what your marketing focus is, just don’t do it. If your brand is being a high end boutique, do not advertise in the penny shopper. If your focus is being THE source for beads, hold workshops at your store where people who like to bead can gather (and buy).

The easiest example of  this to me is the difference between the customer service provided by Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. In Clearwater, where I buy coffee, we have 2 Dunkin Donuts and numerous Starbucks. I would NEVER go to Dunkin Donuts if I did not have to get coffee for my friend.

Starbucks is nice. They make your coffee EXACTLY the way that you want. They go in the back to get you rice krispy treats if they are out in the front. They even get your coffee if you order it small, medium or large instead of the tall, venti or whatever the other one is. They thank you and give you change and it takes about 2 minutes. I don’t know that I have ever seen an ad for Starbucks. There is not a spokesperson because EVERYONE is a spokesperson.

THEIR BRAND is to provide exceptional customer service within the coffee niche.

On the other hand, Dunkin Donuts is painful. They ask you 3 times what you ordered. They give you the wrong thing. Their lines are horrendous and their product offerings are so varied that people sometimes have to drive around and park so that they have time to make their beverage. Rachel Ray is their spokesman. I see lots of ads with her in them and I LIKE Rachel Ray. Liking her is NOT enough to combat the pain of having to drive up to Dunkin Donuts! Fire her, stop making ads and train your people to produce a donut and a cup of coffee, with a smile, in less than 10 minutes!

THEIR BRAND is to provide a variety of confections, not care about customer service and have coffee as an add on product

As a small business owner, make sure your brand and your customer service represent the true goals of your company. Look at your processes with a fresh eye and see if there are things you can fix. If you would like to find out more about niche marketing we have a number of posts that you might like too!

Dear Rachel, you seem like a very bright girl who is doing okay for herself. I am sorry that part of my plan includes firing you. I will buy 2 of your magazines to make up for it!

Incoming search terms:

  • niche magazine customere serivce

Things you should NEVER do!

I hear a lot of rules when it comes to marketing. I break some of them and am still alive and you can be too!

Rule 1 – Never change your look. If you pick a logo and outgrow it you are stuck with it forever. You should NEVER change it. That puts A LOT of pressure on a new business. There are numerous examples of how logos have changed over the years to update them for the times. One of my favorite changers is UPS. They made a number of logo changes and still seem to be able to deliver packages. While they are a big company and the changes were somewhat radical you can still tell that the logo represents the same company. Do not stick with a bad logo if you are unhappy, hire a designer and change it until you are thrilled with the results!

Rule 2 – Changing your name to update it for the times. I know this seems counter to the last rule but bear with me for a moment. When we were working on a project I found out through the grapevine that a long term company had changed its name to Enodis. This took a couple of wonderfully named companies like Berisford and Welbilt and turned them into a word that is hard to spell and doesn’t mean anything in modern times. I kid you not, according to their ENO Annual and Transition Report (foreign private issuer) (20-F) Item 4. Information on the Company for the 2000:

In fiscal 2000, we took steps to consolidate our equipment and service brands under the global Enodis(TM) brand umbrella. Our new name, Enodis, is based on a Latin word that may be translated as “solution provider.” We adopted the new name to reflect our commitment to meet our customers’ needs, through a comprehensive package of products and services, with equipment and technology solutions.

I hate made up words. Enough said except that they paid A LOT of money for that advice.

Rule 3 – You need to be VERY careful and make sure that everything you send out is perfict. I misspelled “perfect” and lived. I have sent out some dinky postcards that had a mistake and you know what happened? People called me to tell me I had a typo. That is right, they called me. They did not think that I am a degenerate and unworthy of love. They did not fire me and tell me that I could no longer represent them in their real estate transactions. Now don’t get me wrong, our brochures are immaculate and without errors or I reorder them. Our business cards have the correct phone numbers on them and our postcards have the correct dates of upcoming events. I am not suggesting a free for all with no spell checking! What I am suggesting is that you can spend so much time making sure something is perfect that it never gets sent. Send out informative pieces to people who are interested in what you have to say and they will cut you some slack, even if you are human and make a mistake!

But I don’t want to limit myself

I would say that at least 80% of the time when I suggest that someone choose a niche the nichee tells me that they don’t want to limit themselves by specializing. They feel that if they pick one thing that they will be pigeon-holed and not be able to work with anyone else.

Well that is baloney! I have two arguements against that:

  1. You can say you are an expert at multiple things! – One realtor in our area has a bus bench that says she is the Safety Harbor and Countryside expert. I am sure that she uses that in her marketing to those areas as well. Surprisingly enough she has another bench in another area of town that says she is the Palm Harbor expert also. There are no bench police who will grab her and say that she can’t be all three. Since I am marketing obsessed I noticed this, but I can guarentee that I am one of the few people who will ever connect bus benches in different parts of town.
  2. You can make yourself a expert in something that is broad reaching. My real estate business partner and I are experts in Sales and Marketing which allows us to use that in many different ways depending on the situation. Author Tim Ferriss has branded himself as the time-saving expert, Brian Tracy will help you to stuff done and Tony Robbins will get you pumped up to do your best. None of these limit the number of people they can reach, they just put a framework that you can hang your marketing and branding efforts on.

One last point, just because you label yourself the “show dog expert” doesn’t mean your vet business has to work with ONLY show dogs! It can mean that people think that you must be good if show dog owners use you and they will want to have that level of care for thier own pets. Quit thinking how this won’t work for you or your business and think about how it might help make you even more successful!

Seth Says…Gobble Up Market Share

Okay so I got a shock when I saw Seth’s post today – he told me to quit being a realtor! Luckily I continued on and found that what he meant was to quit being a “normal” realtor. The ones with the picture on their business cards who specialize in giving good service – good service is a cost of doing business NOT a feature!!

In our market the number of realtors has decreased by almost half from the all time high and using the 80/20 rule that means that we only have 1558 producing realtors in our market – whoo whoo! I have been fortunate to only sell during the last two years and have a heavy marketing background. I have high hopes and low expections that anyone will buy one of my listings in the first few days for full price (it has happened but it is not the norm!) I EXPECT to have to set myself apart from the crowd and to work hard to make my client’s listings shine.

Seth says…The first is to become the expert in what you do. Which means micro-specialization. Who is the single-best agent for condos in your zip code? Or for single family homes for large families?

 Ironically enough I just spoke last week with a realtor who has 10 children – wow does she need to be the big family realtor!  We sat down and went over marketing and positioning strategies, ways to establish herself as the expert and how to use her branding on all of her materials AND vehicle. AND most of what she needed to do was FREE! Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy but there were few costs associated with establishing herself as the expert in this area except for her time.

Figure out what makes you a special realtor or accountant or lawyer or car dealership and go big – make a stand and take your unfair share of the market!