Speaking is a great way to hear first-hand what entrepreneurs and business owners are thinking.  Last month, this question popped up a few times. “How can I do all the marketing and still do my work?  I feel overwhelmed!”

Well, that’s pretty easy to answer.

You can’t do all your work and sell, then take care of all the PR and marketing.  It’s just not possible.  Unless, you have at least an outsourced person or two to help with the workload, an intern or another member of your team who’s qualified to carry out your vision (and instructions).

But, you can do what’s important to grow your business and brand. You just have to select the promotional tactics and tasks that matter, and automation that fits.

So, how does a busy entrepreneur avoid marketing overwhelm?  

  • Stay focused and don’t try to do it all. I’m a recovering perfectionist and drove myself crazy trying to be everything and everywhere all at once. To start, identify your ideal client and where they hang out. Then be clear on your messaging and call to action, and build a strong consistent outreach program.
  • Find the best 2 – 3 platforms that will increase your visibility and learn how to use them to get your biggest bang for the buck. If your customers aren’t on Instagram, don’t waste your time. If the majority of your customers aren’t women, don’t bother with Pinterest.  If you’re in the B 2 B space, use LinkedIn. Write on Pulse, comment, engage, join groups.  If your audience is on Facebook, go for it and mix it up with video. Building credibility? Consider Twitter.  Build a foundation then add layers (platforms that make sense).
  • Remember the golden rule of promotion (yes rules are meant to be broken). Engage 80% of the time with your audience, prospects, customers and influencers.  Promote your products, services, events and special offers 20% of the time. This takes time and requires content marketing, but it builds a base of raving fans.
  • Find influencers in your industry and see what they’re doing. Yes, you can lurk anonymously on LinkedIn, but really, there’s no need.  See what others are up to, but don’t go into a tail spin if they’re one place and you’re another.  Try a platform to see if there’s a fit – and also, consider your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). What makes you different from your competitor. Are they really competitors anyway?  Isn’t there enough business for us all?
  • Test, try, then say goodbye. You aren’t being judged. Let it go if you made feel like you made a mistake or something didn’t work. Read up on what you think the best strategy is for your business, phone a friend or expert and test it out.  No babies are dying here.  Think of it like adding accessories or trying a new look. Lucky you, most promotional copy and ideas can be reworked or recycled.
  • Have your customers sell for you. What’s more powerful than a solid word of mouth referral? “Hello – yes, I’d love to – this is how we work – and here’s what we charge.  Awesome, when do you want to begin?  Your credit card?  Of course – give me a minute to grab a pen.” You can also ask for referrals on your email signature, at network meetings and when you talk with an event organizer. Bottom line, you have to ask. It’s as easy as “ketchup please?”  Know anyone else that might like my ABC?
  • Automate baby, automate. I’m an expert in training. I say it all the time.  My colleagues are located all around the country, but one thing is, we share tools, tricks and tips and we try them out.  I love Buffer.com, Feedly.com, Canva.com and a host of other websites that make my social media and design life easier. Work for 30 minutes, post for 1 week. I’m into easy and colorful sharing of PR, marketing and business insights.

Overwhelm is a choice and it’s not for me.  I’d prefer to be more spot-on, not compare myself to others and listen to my gut to tell me what’s write. (Oh, I meant right).  Either way, business is what you make it.

Explore your options and be your best self.  You can’t go wrong.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with several clients who are accomplished in their fields, but less sophisticated about social media and PR – and how to promote their brands in the digital marketing world. I’m working with four experts right now, in completely different industries and my mission is to take them from more of an offline world to an online world – and combine the two for maximum exposure, credibility and revenue generating opportunities.

Here are 5 Tips to Make the Transition from Offline to Digital Marketing Easier

  1. Be grateful for and take advantage of the wide network of supporters you’ve had in the past. If you’ve been helpful to them, chances are they’ll be helpful to you. What do you need to get you to the next step? An introduction?  Referral? Recommendation? 15 minutes to discuss an idea? “Don’t ask, don’t get.”
  2. Don’t be someone you’re not. Sometimes when we’re afraid, we pretend to be more advanced than we are – to not feel stupid or left out.  Experience has taught me that it’s better to be transparent and in learning mode, then to find yourself out of integrity and not on brand with your core values. You won’t get far spotted as a phony. Just be you.
  3. It’s ok to not know everything.  Give yourself permission to accept where you are and decide where you want to go. If you think it’s boring to hang around a know-it-all, it’s far worse to be a pretend one! I’m not a rocket scientist and I have no intention to learn about the Theory of Aerospace Propulsion.  I am more inclined to learn about PR secrets to get what you want, help others share their gifts and live a freedom based life traveling, teaching and speaking around the world. Note: We are all experts in training – the point is to learn how to share your expertise to a digitally “with it” market of your ideal clients.
  4. Pick one social media platform you like (and will use) and perfect it. I’m lucky that my clients like to write, have a voice and tone to their brand and can express their knowledge fluently.  They’re also willing to “write to be heard.” Though each client is different, they can all benefit from email marketing, blogging, LinkedIn Pulse or Facebook – depending on where their target market is and how they like to engage.
  5. Find someone you like, know and trust who will help you get where you want to go. They don’t need to be your best friend, they should be your advisor. Be sure that they listen, understand what you’re looking for and outline a path. They can’t tell you how it will be done, step by step.  It’s never one thing anyway, it’s always a combination. Sometimes it involves tweaking a website, creating expert reports, speaking to a niche market, teaching advanced classes, launching a JV, getting scholarship clients for testimonials, being interviewed, writing a book for credibility.  These tactics are just a few of the possible hundred to take you from an offline brand to an online brand.

“Oh, the things you can find, if you don’t stay behind.” – Dr. Seuss

There’s certain visual branding you can’t fool around with – and that includes the colors and fonts of your logo. Let’s face it, your logo represents you or your company all the time – and online, you’re always on.

When we were just a print world, it was fairly easy to identify colors with the Pantone® matching system color chart or PMS colors.  Red might be a fire engine red, warm red or cool red.  And, the finished product and color from any press might look different.

Today, every designer worth their weight in gold, should provide you with a color brief, which outlines your exact colors, fonts and symbols so you’ll never go wrong – or forget what you’re using.

It’s important to know for PR and marketing, because you always need to be consistent in your branding and messaging, including your visual presence. And how you look is critical to your success.

Let’s take a look at the color brief Colleen Davis from Intentional Branding provided me when she designed my new logo.  Click here to see what the RobinSamora.com color brief looks like.

You can see it’s very specific and there’s no question ever on my colors, fonts and what my symbols of tagline looks like.

If you’re thinking of rebranding or designing a new logo, be sure to get a color brief. It’s the only way to go, and be sure to share it with your team.

An extraordinary personal brand is a set of messages, attitudes and behaviors that come together synergistically to help you enjoy better opportunities, make more money, command more influence, and help more people. What’s more, it helps establish you as a role model and leader in your field, which elevates you to a whole new level.

Of course, those are the benefits of an extraordinary personal brand. Most people don’t have one at that level yet; and some might not even have a personal brand at all (or at least not one that they’ve ever noticed). However, if you fall anywhere on this spectrum, then don’t worry. When it comes to improving – or possibly re-inventing – your personal brand so that it’s extraordinary, there’s no need to go searching for clues on where to start. You can simply borrow the playbook from the corporate world.

Indeed, have you noticed that the most trusted, valuable and beloved corporate brands share certain key characteristics? It doesn’t matter whether they’re established in the consumer retail space, the medical field, the IT industry, or anywhere else – when you set aside all of the differences, the best brands are always: unique, expressive, authentic, consistent and confident.

1. Unique

A “generic personal brand” is a contradiction in terms; yet this doesn’t stop many professionals from having one that is virtually identical to many others. This is a mistake of profound proportions! Your personal brand is your “professional DNA.” It should be all about you, and only you. Don’t be afraid to be different; on the contrary, leverage your differences to stand out from the crowd for all of the right reasons.

2. Expressive

Your personal brand should convey key messages that express who you are, where you’ve been – and most importantly — where you’re headed tomorrow. Be willing to communicate your personal brand in a variety of ways, and to a variety of audiences. If Shakespeare was right and “all the world’s a stage,” then your personal brand is a microphone. What will YOU express?

3. Authentic

Make your personal brand attractive. Make it engaging. Make it interesting, unforgettable and bold. But no matter what, make it authentic! And you achieve this by embracing and expressing your values and principles. What do you stand for? What do you care about? What do you consider essential about you, and about the contribution you aim to make? Let authenticity shine through your personal brand, and you’ll be amazed at the impact you have on like-minded people who want to be part of your story.

4. Consistent

Whether you’re presenting at a conference, enjoying a casual lunch with clients, creating your LinkedIn profile, or doing anything else where your personal brand makes an appearance, ensure that you’re consistent. This doesn’t mean that you must choose the exact same words and repeat them mechanically. Rather, it means the core, underlying message should be consistent in look, tone and style, and that your visual should match your verbal. Here’s the litmus test: connect with 10 different people in 10 different settings. If all of them share the same impression of your personal brand – not the exact words, but they feeling, the impact and the key takeaways – then you’re being consistent.

5. Confident

As a corporate A-player, you’re certainly “in it to win it.” But is your personal brand in alignment with that ambition; or, could it be undermining your aspirations? Ensure that your personal brand is confident and self-assured. Clearly convey that you believe in yourself and in your potential. After all, if you don’t, how can you expect anyone else to?

The Bottom Line

Provided that the quality of your work is excellent, and that you’re committed to adding value to everything you do and everyone you meet, an extraordinary personal brand can take your career to unimagined new heights. But it can only start with you. So ask yourself: are you ready, willing and able to be extraordinary?

I love to teach how to pitch and contact the media, without fear.  If you want attention, recognition, leadership position and expert status – learn how to pitch.  Whether you’re pitching to a reporter, bloggers, podcasters, expert panel groups, speaking committees, industry associations, TV or radio shows – customize the pitch to their request.

Here’s a repurposed pitch for Marketing on a Shoestring.
Robin Samora - Pitch Sample
 

Want to know more about pitching to the media?  Check out these articles.

You’ll also want to look at this:  Society of Professional Journalists Freelancer Directory

Hope that you’re pitch perfect!

There’s a small shop near my summer house that sells rafts, boating supplies and bouncy floatables to the vacation crowd who flock here every year to enjoy life on the lake. Their prices aren’t cheap, they have a decent selection of products, but from the minute you walk in the store you notice something wrong.

Terrible customer service.

We went to look at rafts and engaged the staff, from the manager to the owner, and what we noticed was true. Customer service was frightful. It wasn’t just their individual attitudes, but collectively it was horrifying. I was ready to walk out, but my friend wanted to buy a raft and was willing to pay full price.

Would they take the raft down so we could see it. NO. Could we look at it to see if it was the right size for the kids. NO. No seemed to be the only response and snarky disrespectful growls didn’t win any points.

We took the raft home and my teenage niece told us how to fight back. 

“Click on their Ad words and tell all your friends to do the same,” she said. “It could cost them thousands.”

At first, I chuckled then thought about it. She was right. If there’s an ad campaign for their company and they’re spending money on Google Ad words, she’s got a point.

I didn’t do it and suggested to the entire family and CEO friend who was irked as well, to let it go.

Truth is: One angry customer who felt violated, ripped off and annoyed at disrespectful lip service and attitude could cost a business money, and lots of it – especially if the business is buying Ad Words.

My take away from this experience and advice to small business owners?  Spend time in training and adopt an attitude of “How can I help you?”

We travel frequently and visit top hotels and restaurants (at great discounts) and companies who care spend time and money training their staff – to make a positive impression, keep a customer for life and create an experience that makes them feel special.

You don’t have to be a top hotel to do this – you or your company can have great customer service.

Hey, no one’s perfect. But from my experience and other’s feedback, this raft store on the shore of America’s oldest summer resort in America doesn’t give a hoot.

I wish they would.

Although you may think that makeup is for those who just want to look better on TV, it’s really a must have for anyone who’s being photographed, filmed or on stage.  For most women, it’s also a normal part of their beauty routine.

Applying makeup for television requires different techniques so that you stand out, but don’t fade out.

The goal is to create a soft, polished look that will photograph well under the unforgiving television lights and today’s high definition cameras.

10 Makeup Tips for Stage, Style and TV

  1. Prep skin with an oil free primer.  It will not only make the skin appear to be smoother, it will help your makeup last longer.
  2. Choose a foundation that is a perfect color match.  You want to create even coverage and a natural look by blending.   Apply only what you need, not too much.  Be sure you bring foundation down on your neck to avoid a line.
  3. Go easy on the concealer, especially under the eyes, the right amount will cover any dark circles and even out your skin tone.   Be sure the color is not too light.
  4. A colorless powder will set your foundation.  (Never use a silica based powder under the bright lights on television, they may make white splotches appear on your skin.)  Powder your T-zone to control shine.
  5.   Neutral shades of eyeshadow are the best.  Go over all the edges multiple times with your brush.  If you’re using two shades, run your brush over both of them to meld the colors together.
  6. Highlight under your brow to give the eye a lift.  Add a touch to the inside corners of your eyes to brighten.
  7. Perfect your brows.  Trim any stray hairs and use a power, pencil or balm to define.  If you use a pencil, draw short lines that mimic tiny hairs and use a spoolie brush to blend.
  8. Line your eyes with a neutral brown, grey or black liner.  Apply mascara from root to tip of lashes.  A natural looking false lash will add a nice touch and make your eyes more defined.
  9. Apply blush to the apples of your cheeks.  Blend, blend, blend for a natural look.
  10. Avoid dark matte lip colors, choose a soft color.  Line the lips with a pencil and fill the entire lip in with the pencil.  Finish off with a sheer gloss over the pencil.  It will make your lips appear moist on camera.

This is from me:

Charlotte headshotI hope you enjoyed these great tips from Charlotte for when you want to go on camera!

She’s sending one of her top makeup artists to my house when my daughter gets married in a couple of weeks.   A little about Charlotte?  She works for TV networks, Broadway and is on call when celebrities and world leaders come to Boston.  Her traveling beauty team is amazing and she’s won awards from The Knot and Wedding Wire six years in a row! Check out her website.

Are you getting married, going on stage of shooting a video series?

Picture perfect is the only way to go!

Have you ever read a bio and thought you knew the person?  What they’re like, how they think and if you like them or not?  A well-written bio can influence a prospect to buy or not buy, continue reading to hear more or pick up the phone, right then and there. Why miss an opportunity to present your best self and brand with a poorly written bio?

So, how do you write a compelling bio?

The first step is to identify who you are, what you’re selling or promoting (even yourself) and present a background that’s not B-B-B-Boring.  It’s also helpful to include a few interesting facts so readers will have a sense of you as a person – inside and out, including what you like to do, off hours.  Even if you’re a workaholic, you still have hobbies or interests that you enjoy or are important in your life.

When I’m working with a client and we’re reviewing their bio, I ask, “what do people not know about you?”  After they make faces, or I hear them making faces with a gigantic pause at the other end of the phone, they tell me about their passions and reflect on their lives.

  • I collect vintage Corvettes
  • I’ve been to every continent in the world, except Antarctica and I’m planning a trip there now
  • I’m leading a volunteer vacation with my church to Africa
  • I’m writing a book on XYZ and it’s being published in the fall
  • I’m a clown at hospitals and make kids laugh

For me, it might be that I live on an island in the summer, was a beekeeper for many years or am a Travelzoo® fanatic, always dreaming of my next vacation. To mix it up, I might add that my 1983 Check Cab Marathon with opera windows was the best car I ever owned, I love Greek meatballs or I’m a Reiki Master.

Bios will change like you and your website, and eventually you may have 3 bios or more; one short (50 words), one longer (100 words) and one by-line or speaker intro bio, but that’s for later.

Your Bio = Who you are + what you do + how you help others + a dash of personality.

It’s Your Personal Brand and PR.

The content of a bio can be like an elevator pitch, but remember with an elevator pitch you’re presenting in person and have the opportunity to influence others with your voice, behavior and body language.  And, in person, you can turn on your charisma. Again, you marketing you.

If you’re looking to refresh your bio, take 30 minutes and copy and paste ones you like in a document. Try out different versions and send them to your inner circle to review.  It’s hard to judge your own bio sometimes. We’re typically shy, don’t think a phrase is important, or don’t want to toot our horns too loudly.

But, “if you don’t toot your own horn, who will?”

Think of your bio as a soft toot, written to inspire people to want to know more. It’s not bragging, it’s not hard selling or reciting your credentials as a Harvard MBA and every degree you’ve earned since high school. It’s a story of your past and present, credentials and a few tidbits that make you interesting.

Granted, you’re smart. But, you’re also human. You’ve lived a story to tell.

Tell it like it is, but position it in a way to better your brand.

Summer reading isn’t just for kids, though every parent and interested adult might ask their favorite little one(s), “what’s on your reading list this summer?”

So my question to you is the same.  “What’s on your reading list this summer?” Here are some recommendations from Richard Feloni and Shana Lebowitz with Business Insider, and members of the Young Entrepreneur Council – for the best business books to read this summer.

Top 23 Best Business Books to Read This Summer

I’d love to start a book club and read of copy of every business book listed here.  Granted, I’ve read a few already, but certainly not all 23! 10 top picks on their list include:

  • Sprint by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz. What’s the process to launch amazing new product at Google? Take a deep dive at Google’s venture capital firm and see what their 5-day “sprint” method is all about.
  • Shoe Dog by Phil Night. When Phil Knight graduated college, he sold running shoes out of his parents’ garage. He also happens to be retiring as chairman of Nike this summer. Here’s his story from laces to going places.
  • Originals by Adam Grant. Grant is the highest rated professor at Wharton and the youngest to date, to reach full professor. In this book, he looks at daring thinkers over the last century and inside their minds. What makes them “original?”
  • O Great One! by David Novak and Christina Bourg. Novak is the retired chairman of Yum Brands and left the company with more than a pension; 41,000 restaurants across 125 countries. The #1 leadership lesson he teaches?  Show employees appreciation for great work.
  • How to Have a Good Day by Caroline Webb, CEO of Sevenshift. Webb shares practical best practices and tried and true career advice from her 16 years as a consultant – including how to deal with annoying coworkers (and so much more).
  • Grit by Angela Duckworth. Duckworth, a psychology professor at U Penn and winner of the McArthur Genius award, believes that true grit – a combination of passion and perseverance – will lead to success. She thinks in fact that it’s often more important that talent or intelligence.
  • An Everyone Culture by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. Two Harvard professors wrote this book citing that employees work two jobs; the one they signed up when they joined and one they battle in office politics. Select companies avoid this by creating Deliberately Developmental Organizations. Who are they? Read the case studies and find out.
  • Quench Your Own Thirst by Jim Koch.  The story of how a consultant, thought crazy, left his $250,000 a year job and started Koch’s Beer Company, competing with the likes of Budweiser and Heineken. You may know the brand, Sam Adams?
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport. Georgetown professor Cal Newport argues that some of the greatest output is the result of deep work. This book tells you how you can build deep sessions into your day to accomplish top quality work in a few hours or less. Sign me up.
  • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. Find out how acting on ego can prevent learning opportunities and similarly, how it can prevent successful people from adapting to change. Holiday uses lessons from history and philosophy to show how to master the ego. Read to see how this applies to New England Patriots Head Coach, Bill Belichick and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Hmmm.

Interested in other top business book touted by the Young Entrepreneur Council?  Check them out here.

And, what’s on Bill Gates’ reading list? See what he’s recommending for the Summer of ’16.

You got it, right here.

Live a lot. Learn a lot.

I wanted to share an article I wrote about sponsoring events, as it’s often a great way to get eyeballs and you know what in seats. I published it a while back, but the content is just as valid today as it was then. Hope you enjoy!

As you may already know, sponsorship opportunities can be a cost-effective way to build equity in your company’s brand, which in turn helps drive increased market share, mind share, sales, revenues and profits.

However, while sponsorships can be very rewarding – whether by lending your company name to an event, participating as a joint venture partner/underwriter, or through any other vehicle – it’s wise to “look before you leap” and ask yourself these 7 questions to help ensure that the effort is a win for everyone involved:

  1. “Is this a good fit for us?” Evaluate the fit between the sponsorship opportunity and your company’s mission and goals. There should be clear alignment.
  1. “Will we reach the right people?” As with any marketing idea or project, you want to ensure that this sponsorship opportunity will let you engage the right target audience for where your company is right now in its strategic marketing plan.
  1. “Can we make this happen?” Despite you and your team’s best intentions and efforts, you need to take into consideration a number of logistical, financial and administrative factors, including: timing, expense, logistics, workload, and staff. Think with you head AND your heart!
  1. “What kind of support is available?” Do some research on the event organizers to see what kind of support is available. Will they co-produce marketing material to offset your costs? Can they give you access to discounted media rates? It’s also a good idea to ask for testimonials from other satisfied sponsors.
  1. “Who will we be up against?” Find out which other brands are involved in the event, and if there are any speakers (e.g. workshops, lectures, etc.). Pay particular attention on whether any of these people might enhance or, in some cases, may detract or damage your brand.
  1. “How many people will we connect with?” Find out how many people have registered, and whether there’s a guarantee on the number who will attend. Also look into how the event is being promoted, and whether your company will be featured as part of that effort.
  1. “What’s the ROI?” While there are many different ways to measure ROI (much to the bane of some CFOs out there), the important thing to confirm is that there is, in fact, an ROI that makes sense per your strategic marketing plan. For example, if your goal is to increase top-of-funnel leads by 15% next quarter, then see how the potential sponsorship opportunity supports that. Or, if your priority is to increase brand recognition by 20% among your key demographic, then evaluate the opportunity through that lens. Whatever your goal, the point here is that you want to think about ROI before you commit to sponsoring – not after.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, all 7 questions above point to one clear piece of advice: do your homework! That doesn’t mean you should spend weeks or months analyzing every potential sponsorship opportunity. However, it does mean that it’s clearly in your best interest to position your brand for maximum success – and that includes measuring results and conducting a “lessons learned” after each event, so that you’re constantly getting better at the sponsorship game, year after year.