What’s the difference between being spontaneous and impromptu? Both are valuable skills when you’re at a conference – and especially shooting video.

Impromptu: Done without being planned, organized or rehearsed

Spontaneous: Having an open, natural and uninhibited manner

Sylvia Clare, Author of Trusting Your Intuition: Rediscover Your True Self to Achieve a Richer, More Rewarding Life says: “Being spontaneous is being able to respond with confidence; calmly trusting that, whatever the outcome, you will have a positive if challenging experience that will lead to greater self-awareness and success.”

I say, yup. I’m on board with that, especially if you’re trying to capture real time content at a conference and have an amazing videographer like Ellen Lacey from NewTV for only two hours!

It must have been my lucky day, because the booth in front of ours was empty. We didn’t have the nerve to take it over for the entire day, but we did manage to make it HQ for Robin’s Rainmakers videotaping.

The question to all attendees on the hot seat: What’s your biggest marketing challenge?

  • How can I get more engagement with my cause on a local level?
  • What do I have to do to grow my expert status as a scientist?
  • How do I become the go-to person at work?  (Hint: Candy works, but getting the job done rates higher)
  • What do I have to do to get my boss to notice me so I can get a raise?

The questions and answers were on the spot. Live on camera. I’ve never interviewed in this style before, but I liked that is was natural and almost the same as mentoring a client on the phone or in person. Ideas flow whether you catch them on paper in the middle of the night, in a conversation, get an intuitive hit or remember a fact or figure from years of study or experience. Being open to answers and trying new approaches is vital in video – being impromptu and spontaneous just like real engagement, live.

When you really think about it, what’s the big deal? You wave your hand in front of the camera when you make a mistake. You go with the flow. You have fun and stop being so serious.

Remember, we’re human and people are comfortable with like-minded souls who aren’t afraid of getting out there and learning from experts willing to share. Plus, when it comes down to it, we’re all really experts in training.

My hot seat advice as I write this? Let’s all learn from each other and have a good time doing it.

I haven’t met a smarty pants in years.

Last week I talked about Digital Marketing Trends for 2017. Becoming more instant, conversational in key words, voice activated, uber local and focused on niche target audiences. Hashtags. Data driven.

Not sure how to take advantage of these digital trends? Check out these 5 ways to build your brand:

  1. Turn your smartphone into your own media channel. Capture an event on Facebook Live, or better yet, “You Go Live.” Be transparent in the moment and let your audience, friends and followers see where you are and what you’re up to. Building a fan base is not about hiding. It’s about engaging. 80% sharing, 20% promoting. Don’t forget about a (CTA) call to action.
  2. #Hashtags. Hashtags connect like-minded audiences. They’re brilliantly used by big brands and little brands to inform, inspire, motivate and sell. Not convinced? Look at Instagram. It’s a wildly popular personal and business platform that’s hashtag crazy and instant. Same with Twitter. Share your photos, thoughts, quotes, videos and story behind the scenes – and in front of the camera.
  3. Get really local. For all that you may hate about Facebook, there’s a lot to love. Consider Facebook advertising to get leads, grow your list, create a funnel. Want to reach 25-40 year-old women who speak French and live thirty miles from Belmont, MA? Oh, and that have a combined household income of $100,000+? Invest 20 minutes and start a campaign. Spend as much or as little as you like. You will be amazed.
  4. Create keywords (and Adwords) as you would a conversation, especially with voice activated systems in place. Honda Dealership near here. Thai food in Boston. Christmas Tree Lighting this Saturday. Test to see what works and monitor often. Don’t be afraid to change things up. Tweak as you like, but make note of all your tweaks!
  5. It’s no surprise that digital marketing budgets are growing leaps and bounds. In fact, in the next few years corporate America may spend up to 25% of their marketing budget on digital marketing.  But, only if it’s working. How do you find out? Split tests. Consistency. Data. ROI. Numbers. Run yours and see what’s working, or not.

Today, I’m giving a talk on Digital Trends for 2017. As part of my preparation, I always like to research what other experts are forecasting and predicting. Their information usually validates my thoughts and offers more data on the why’s behind the findings.

What’s Trending:

  1. Millennials are moving away from public social networks to private ones. Think Facebook Messenger, What’s App, GroupMe. Micro-sharing information and links.
  2. Live video isn’t a maybe strategy. It’s a must have to boost engagement. Plus, there’s limited competition.
  3. Digital Assistants are here to stay. Have a question? Ask Siri, Alexa, OK Google or Cortana.
  4. Customers are using multiple devices to make up their minds to try products and services.
  5. Keywords are more conversational as voice dominates.
  6. Google’s new algorithms are putting more emphasis on local search.
  7. Native advertising is on the rise. More content-like but still sneaky.
  8. SEO and Paid Media spending will grow up to 24% of a marketing budget by 2022.
  9. Brands are creating an “immersive experience” to increase engagement.
  10. Becoming more instant is definitely the way to go.

These are top picks, but there’s always more.

And why are these trends important?

Dense marketing is yesterday’s news. Spend time and money where your target market is. Improve your video marketing and use it to grab attention. Repurpose content in ways it will be seen and shared. And finally, engage with your prospects and customers live. At workshops, events, on video.

Show the real you.

 

Special thanks to contributors Blair Nicole Nastasi, Corey Austin, Lindsay Hutter, Dave Chaffey and Jayson DeMers for their collective insights.

Ever since I was a kid, Thanksgiving reminded me of a happy time when families got together in the spirit of giving thanks.  It wasn’t a Hallmark® holiday, it was real life. We each were at a different place but connected wherever we were, and that happened to be at the kitchen table.
Life seems to be more complicated now, or maybe I see it through a different lens.  It’s still rosy if you choose that that color. I’m an eternal optimist.
I’d like to share a piece I wrote for my Gratitude Workshop, 50 Ways to Be Thankful and Show Random Acts of Kindness. It’s a reminder that being thankful begins at home.
When you think of having an Attitude of Gratitude, consider this. Being thankful comes from the head, being grateful comes from the soul.
May you enjoy holiday blessings today and always.

One of the questions I’m frequently asked is, “How do I market my blog?” There are hundreds of ways to promote a blog via PR and publicity, but I decided to ask Google the same question.  In less than 30 seconds, I found this article, How to Work with a Virtual Assistant to Market Your Blog. Hint: You don’t need a VA to do the work.  You can do it yourself or share the task. Heck, you can even ask your savvy teenager to help out!

In the post, Chris Ducker shares a list of almost 200 blog directories that you can submit your blog to. The list is a few years old, so I wanted to share a more recent resource by Harsh Agrawal who promises an epic collection of 131 verified blog directories. I’ll be curious to see what works and what doesn’t.  Information changes in a moment’s notice, so sometimes good enough is good enough. It’s the action that creates marketing momentum.

Lastly, I’d like to share HubSpot’s Guide to 50 Online Local Business Directories. You may find something new here to increase your visibility, brand awareness and exposure.

Oh, and sales.

I’ll confess.  As much as I’ve heard of Meetup groups to widen your outreach, I never realized its potential to reach a like-minded audience.

If you’re new to Meetups, they’re a great way to build your expertise, test new brand personas and prospect for clients or potential partnerships. They can also help build a list and extend your influence circle – especially if you’re traveling and speaking out of town. Let’s face it, if you’re already in a new city, why not maximize your time there and promote your business?

If you’re thinking of having an event, one way to test the waters is by creating a Meetup.

As a new Meetup leader, you have a free trial for a month and can start a group on almost any topic you like. I didn’t know what to expect and was willing to give it a try.

Hint #1: To promote your event, give everything you think might work a try.

I was surprised that within three days, I had about 15 people interested in my group and made it a point to email each and every person. You can’t be too salesy, though.  Meetups are meant to start a conversation.

You can imagine my delight when a producer from a local news station in Boston inquired and asked if she could interview me and videotape the event. All from Meetup! I responded quickly, which is appreciated by the press.

Hint: #2. Be quick to respond to a reporter’s request.

I joke that you should be available 23/7, making sure to get an hour of sleep. That’s me. Keep your phone handy and turn up the volume. I always forget to switch from silent to my favorite ring tone.

Hint #3:  Create a media package that explains your event.

A media package means information. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it needs to tell a story quickly. We had written a pitch, designed an event flyer, had a photo ready in several sizes and a working registration page via Constant Contact.

Hint #4:  Whether your event is free or paid, as the organizer, you are the voice of the event.  Always be clear and congruent. A mixed message never sells or gets press.

Hint #5: Learn what works and use it. Meetups is a platform that works depending on how you want to use it. If it doesn’t work for an event, it can lead to other opportunities, if you allow it.  So, set a good intention. Good juju will follow.

Lastly, you can’t just depend on one tactic to promote an event.  It’s a combination of trial and error, as well as proven tactics that have worked in the past.

We called the Mayor’s office for the Kids Gratitude Workshop, posted flyers, send pitches to the press, posted on calendars, invited sponsors, used email marketing from strong supporters and asked for help on social media.

One thing that was different here. The event was designed to teach kids the Attitude of Gratitude and how it opens doors to possibilities you can’t even imagine.

You’ll find that when you believe in your mission and have passion, you’ll have success.

Redefine it on your terms. Not someone else’s.

One of my clients, Lidia Kenig Scher is a transformational artist who heals through vibrational painting. Last month, a student and major collector of her art, offered to host a holiday party and silent auction in her honor to help Delibreen, an 18-month old boy who was badly burned in Iraq and flown to Shriner’s Hospital.

Lidia’s intention all along was to give a portion of the proceeds to help the little boy – but we added another layer. We decided to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise money, feature the cause and offer Lidia’s artwork as incentive for donors to give.

I’ve never created a GoFundMe campaign before, but I announced it at a presentation last week. Within minutes, Phill Naylor, a videographer from XtraLargeMedia offered to shoot the 2-minute introduction and Diane Debs from Arbonne made a pledge to donate healing baby products. I was touched and not surprised, at the same time.

What will this accomplish for Lidia, Shriners Hospital for Children, Baby Delibreen and all of the benefactors supporting the cause? Lots.

Lidia will paint from the heart and give away her artwork in return for donations to help Baby Delibreen. Shriners Hospital will benefit from the goodwill and publicity. Baby Delibreen and his family will receive funds, kindness and the generosity from others. Phill will have produced a meaningful video, Diane will have given healing products to a boy in need, and Lidia’s art collector and devoted student will know that her efforts to help were valued in contributions — far greater than her own circle, from strangers around the world.  Who knew this baby and why was he here in Boston?

You see, things happen and when faced with what we don’t know – the right people show up to help us.

There is a path to gratitude and goodness. Teach your children and the young that this is the way to heal the world.

Creating a blog is not only one of best examples of your owned media, it’s also a wonderful tool to showcase your expertise, get visibility, publicity and PR.  Bottom line, blogs help you get noticed, but you have to write and post on a consistent basis.

Robin’s Rainmakers has been a platform that has helped me increase online and offline credibility, reputation, speaking opportunities and form valuable partnerships, like the one I have with Constant Contact. I’ve also revved up my personal and professional brand. Blog all you like, but pull in traffic!

Here are 5 Ways to Pull Traffic to Your Blog

  • Use images. Take your own photos or create graphics on Canva.com. You can also use one of the hundreds of free online photo resources. Google free images and read sites like Entrepreneur.com for suggestions.  I like Gratisography.com because it’s fun. Pixabay.com is also a resource we use. See what’s here too at com/FreeBlogPhotos.
  • einstien-robinsamoraMake your images fun. Have you used Photofunia.com? You can put yourself and others in the picture. Here’s an example of a fun graphic I use in presentations. It gives me credibility and aligns me with experts.  Right?
  • Don’t forget Infographics. HubSpot has an amazing example of templates to create infographics.  Take your tips and create a visual that will be shared over and over again.  What’s to gain? Higher visibility and brand recognition.  It’s all about sharing and pinning. The Art of Engagement. Can you use any of these ideas from HubSpot? tinyurl.com/HubSpotTemplates
  • Make the most of your headlines with a title generator. Here’s a cool tool you can use to get ideas for headlines and articles. Some may be way out there – but use what looks good and think of this as an inspiration tank.  Co-Schedule also has a free headline analyzer, but start with this one first to get the swing of it. tinyurl.com/CoolTitleGenerator
  • Take advantage of YouTube. You know YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.  And, you probably know that you can create a welcome video and mention your blog, as well as link to blog posts from video descriptions.  Did you also know that you have 5000 characters to work with in the video description area? This isn’t the place to stuff keywords, but rather be strategic in your marketing and SEO efforts.

Of course there are other ways to pull traffic to your blog.  Guest blogging, podcasting, speaking gigs, book signings, Amazon Author Central, Good Reads, by-lined articles, networking, interviews and more.

“If you just keep moving forward, you’ll amaze yourself” – Anonymous

I’ve been speaking more than usual lately, and I love it.  Mostly, because I was scared to death of speaking for years and never thought I would never have the nerve to get up and talk about what I know best: PR, branding, small business marketing and being able to combine the core values of your business and personal brand to help you achieve your best version of success.

For some it could mean improving your expert status, credibility, reputation or visibility. For others, more speaking gigs, opportunities for joint ventures or sponsorships. And that all leads to sales of one kind of another. No sales, no business.

Confidence in sales is a must have.

Here are 7 Confidence Building Exercises to Increase Sales (and your Mojo)

  1. Begin with a pep talk every day. Make one up according to where you need to go, who you need to see, how you need to feel. Practice conversations in your head and in front of the mirror. Change it up frequently. Ask your partner, spouse, friend or dog to tell you how great you are.  Say thank you.
  2. Smile and say hello to at least 5 strangers and tell them what you do. Change up your approach and see which intro gets the best response. I’ve been at the copy desk at Staples and met prospects who turned into clients. Put yourself out there – then follow up!
  3. Learn how to tell at least 3 jokes, and get good at it. You’ll never know when you need one to break the ice! Make sure they’re appropriate for the crowd.  Remember, you’re representing your brand, even after hours and that second cocktail.
  4. Challenge yourself in some new way. Go to a new MeetUp or networking group and talk about your services. Join Toastmasters®. That’s where I started. Start small if you’re nervous about the big stage. Serve as a chair person of a volunteer group.  Acknowledge, accept and put yourself out there as someone everyone should know.  You are the expert in  _____(fill in the blank), right?
  5. Give yourself lots of chances. Throw a party! There are so many adjacent possibilities to trying something new. Just like marketing and PR, you don’t put one media pitch out there, you have a MIX. It’s the same way in building confidence. Revving up your energy creates new energy.
  6. Be a better receiver. Accept compliments, ask for testimonials, build a referral program.  Sometimes, we forget how good we are or don’t ask for the business.  Make a decision to reach out to happy clients. Ask for LinkedIn recommendations. Send surveys to get feedback. Use all of the good, and learn from the not so perfect. Isn’t that how we grow?
  7. Review your progress. How are you feeling on a day by day basis? What are you accomplishing in your career or in other parts of your life? Make note of your successes, sales and growing pains and take a look at the week’s end. See how small changes in your attitude, change you!

Confidence is a game changer even if you have to act as if, for just today.

PS – This is an updated version of a blog from 2014.  I made it more relevant to the Sales and PR process. I’m a bigger believer now more than ever. Confidence is a game changer!

If you’re in the market to buy promotional products to increase your company’s brand awareness at a trade show, event or conference, it’s important to know the most common mistakes people make – so you can avoid them like the plague.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve seen the simplest jobs go wrong because of a mix up of facts, colors, formats and more.

Take a few minutes and read what the mistakes are so your order comes out exactly as you expect, at the price you want and on time!

Lack of purpose

With millions of promotional products to choose from it’s important to know the purpose of your promotional product campaign. Do you want to increase traffic to your website, landing page or promote a special offer? Based on your answer, you may be surprised that a different product, design or distribution plan may be a better idea. Without a clear goal and purpose, your marketing campaign could be doomed to fail before it really begins.

Not tailored to your audience

A custom beer koozie is a great premium for a bar or brewery, but not necessarily on target with a hospital’s image. I’ve seen buyers select premiums that are cool in their eyes, but just don’t fit. When this happens, marketers are appealing to their own taste rather than their audience’s. Take time to research the interest and hobbies of your target demographic and find a product that will appeal to them. Not sure?  Create an informal focus group!

Bland or generic design

Does your freebie or premium have visual interest? Whether it’s colorful, has a catchy slogan or pattern, you want to be sure your product gets attention and a positive reaction. If you create a giveaway that’s boring and uninteresting, chances are you’ve wasted a timely marketing opportunity. Remember, one of the goals of giving a promotional product is to create interest – in the product, service and the item itself!

What’s your distribution plan?

Before you even order promotional products, determine what you’re going to do with them. Will you give them out at a trade show or will reps hand them out to customers in the field? Are you trying to increase your customer’s loyalty by sending a product in the mail or attract a new prospect, in a totally new target market? No matter how you answer these questions, you can be select in your distribution. And, remember to keep at least a few samples in your file cabinet with important facts like where you gave them out, when and feedback. (You can use an excel spreadsheet too).

Ordering cheap items

Most promo products are fairly inexpensive and cost effective as compared to other types of marketing. I know it’s tempting to save as much money as possible and buy the cheapest products available, but sacrificing quality for quantity can actually cost you more in the long run. Be mindful that what you give out is a reflection of your brand, so going cheap isn’t always the way to go. I’m not asking you to break the bank or your budget, but here’s the deal: Your product needs to be effective, before it can be cost effective.

Printing ineffective information

This sounds like a no brainer, but don’t forget to include your website and contact information on the promotional item. The best product at the best price will be wasted if people can’t reach you. Granted, you have limited printing space to work with, so make every word count to reach your goal. A call to action isn’t a marketing maybe, it’s a marketing must! Premiums and promotional items included.

Not proofing carefully

How carefully are you reviewing the proof your promotional company is sending you? Take it from me, you may want to enlist others in your company to take a look too. Triple check the ink and PMS colors as well the actual imprint position. Once you’ve signed off on a proof and the job is in progress, additional changes will mean tossing out the old, and beginning from scratch. And, you know you’ll have to pay extra unless it’s not your fault.

Being stingy on quantities

Don’t be afraid to order a few extra premiums to have on hand for future events and surprise trade shows or meetings. Most vendors offer quantity price breaks where the price per piece decreases as the quantity increases. A company can often save 10 to 15 percent on an order by just adding more product. Plan out your event calendar and product purchases ahead of time and you can save big time.

Pay rush charges

This is one of the biggest mistakes marketers make and one of the easiest ways to reduce costs. Think and plan ahead! A typical production facility schedules weeks in advance so when a rush order comes in changes must be made immediately at the plant. A standard rush order can result in charges of 25% or more. A next day change for your million-dollar client can be – well, you don’t want to know. I’ve done it and saved the day and you could too. When you’re not in panic mode, ship by ground to avoid high freight charges. If you’re going to fly premiums overnight, why not save the money and travel yourself?

The bottom line is this.  Don’t rush through the planning stages of your promotional products campaign. Effective event purchasing can give you the results you’re looking if you use these tips on your checklist before you buy.

About the Author

Rachel Leone is a client and President of Leone Marketing.  Her firm specializes in finding perfect promotional products for trade shows and events to increase brand awareness, loyalty and recognition.  Rachel works with Fortune 500 brands as well as small business owners to engage, without a diamond ring. Her brainstorming sessions are noteworthy and complimentary. Contact Rachel at Rachel@LeoneMarketing.com.