We all know that using an email signature is a sure-fire way to promote your brand for free. You have the freedom and flexibility to promote whatever you like — an upcoming event, a new chapter in a book or your social media channels.

But, are you taking advantage of the signature space when you send emails from your mobile phone? The one that might read like this:  Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

To make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck, customize your email signature in settings and align it with your brand so people can be reminded of who you are and what you do.

Happy to share a resource from Constant Contact about  125 Links to Make You a Better Marketer. It’s all about email marketing best practices and worth a look.

Every week, I’m setting up new clients with marketing campaigns and helping them with their design, because email marketing works – and design does make an impact – if you use it right! And, staying in touch with customers brings in business.

If you’d like me to look at any of your email campaigns or take a test drive with a free trial of Constant Contact for 60 days, please reach out. I’m happy to schedule a complimentary session to see what your goals are.

In full transparency, I also get a small commission depending on the size of your list, but you can also use a free service which won’t have all the bells and whistles – and so much more.

All in all, email marketing works.

Tiny Business Habits to Help You Make More Money

Do you slow down in the summer working on your business? To some extent, we all do, but there are some tiny business habits that will make your small business more money.

Read KC Agu’s article in Entrepreneur.com and pick which habit you’ll commit to this week. The list has 5 items and it’s not daunting. In fact, it makes perfect sense!

I’m going for #2: Track just one major business metric daily.

It’s already given me clarity in forecasting for next quarter.  I could tell you to up your PR and marketing efforts and answer HARO 3 times a week, but you already knew that.

Every savvy business owner knows that a combination of offline and online marketing strategies work to increase visibility, customer loyalty and sales. But, many don’t think about guerilla marketing.  In simple terms, it’s getting in front of your target audience, up close and personal.

Guerilla Marketing is About Being Creative

  • Think about promotional tactics as a way to build brand awareness. Find your target market at events, big Meetups and create a buzz on the street or at an industry event. Engage!
  • Develop a well thought plan for creative and execution. What are your goals? Best location(s)? Right offer? And, have you hired the right staff to carry out the mission from start to finish?
  • Think about Graffiti art on buildings, sidewalks or empty storefront windows. Interesting or funny build outs. Unusual creative in likely spots. Be bold, but ask for permission first.
  • Consider Geo-Fencing, which uses your smart phone’s GPS to offer deals in targeted locations. Snapchat has Geofilters which features location specific marketing and Instagram launched Story Search for hashtags and locations.
  • Create a program that works hand in hand with your current marketing campaign. Think pop-up stores, free samples, branded promo items. I once held Make Money Mondays at Starbucks in the Greater Boston area where I was the PR Pop Up!
  • And finally, be a happy marketer, not an annoying one. In your face is so much different than up close and personal! It’s all about building relationships that last.

 

MIT Sloan grads are among the smartest in the world, and I’m fortunate to be friends with one who’s promoting an app for a European company. He describes it as a fascinating project, but he’s also encountered challenges with a super niche audience. Does that help or hinder his efforts? Although I could recommend at least 50 ways to get free publicity and online mention, there are also best practices recommended from the app world.

App Happy?  Get insight from these articles:

Simple Tips to Get Your App Indexed, Ranked and Installed by SearchEngineLand.com

25 Creative Ways to Promote Your App for Free by Entrepreneur.com

How to Market Your Mobile App by Kissmetrics.com

Whether you’re working full-time, part-time or own your own business, chances are you’ll be involved at some point with helping a non-profit.  If you are, getting exposure can make or break an event or fundraising activities. Getting free or almost free PR and marketing isn’t impossible, no matter what nay sayers might tell you.

Here’s a List of 10 Ways to Extend Your Non-Profit’s PR and Marketing Dollars

  1. Find Agencies Who Do Pro Bono Work. Find out who knows who in your organization and ask if there’s anyone with advertising or PR ties.  You may have an opportunity to get some free work – even if it’s with a smart intern who’s being supervised.
  2. See Who’s Advertising on Digital Billboards. There’s always a chance that digital advertisers have extra ad space that they’re willing to donate. If your cause is compelling enough or dear to their hearts, your message could be seen on high traffic billboards. Never ask, never know.
  3. Check out Google Grants. I’m not an expert on Google Grants, but what I’ve read sounds interesting, especially if your charity qualifies for a $10,000 in-kind AdWords campaign every month. Read the fine print to know the rules and what you’re committing to.
  4. Consider Crowd Funding. Crowdfunding may be an option for your charity, but you never know until you take a closer look. It’s another way to fundraise from outside your regular community in a more global way. Pulling on heart strings still applies.
  5. Write Press Releases Once a Month. Keep the media up to date with news about your charity. Press releases can be sent to journalists, a PR distribution service — paid or free, as well as to sponsors and partners. Use the link to promote your cause on emails and for supporting information when you’re creating a pitch.
  6. Build a Media Contact List. Research reporters who are covering your topic or local area to see if they’re interested in a feature story. Building a media list can be as simple as creating an excel spread sheet and including all pertinent contact information. Be sure to update the list on a regular basis to stay current.
  7. Approach bloggers who may be interested in your story.  Use Google to research top bloggers to share your story, and/or think about guest blogging for other sites. Practice your story telling and pitch in advance to make sure it’s short, sweet and to the point.  Ask yourself, why readers will care about your cause. That’s what an editor wants to know.
  8. Contact Marketing and PR Departments at Local Universities. Would a non-profit campaign like yours be a project a University may be interested in? Make a few calls or send an email or two. You may gain an intern and a few tweethearts.
  9. Organize Local Events Not Just Fundraisers. Hosting local events where you’re not asking for money will give you an opportunity to share your message, share the love and hopefully, share some of the work! Find people who are committed, like-minded and are influencers in their own right. Hate to recruit? Reframe your thinking. It’s multi-level marketing with a heart!
  10. Speak and Talk Up Your Charity. If you are your brand wherever you go, you’re also a brand ambassador for your cause. Tell the world to change the world. Speak on behalf of your charity whenever you get a chance and build a network who cares.

Lastly, you’ll always want to make a list of PWLY and PWBIY. People who love you and people who believe in you. Be sure that you have their full contact information to stay in touch and thank them often. These key supporters are your raving fans.

Show them the love and they’ll return it.

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.

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

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.

Secret #1: Thoughts from the Dressing Room  

Become “media ready” by looking, feeling, thinking and acting like a desirable multi-million-dollar brand — even on a shoestring budget.

Action Items: You are your brand, wherever you go. Do you give off an energy of certainty and impression of increase so people will want to know you? Make someone’s life better in some small way, every day. Live life fully. Step into your greatness and your brand.

Secret #2:   Get Your Brand On    

Cultivate and position a winning brand image that includes bio, photos, signatures, media kits and more.

Look professional, branded, together and ready for business. The press will feel more confident that you’re a player. You are your brand, so act like one that’s in a successful business.

Action Items: Look at your photo – does it look like you now or your high school picture? Can a prospect recognize you in a crowded room? Do you have a signature on your email? Does it give a description of who you are and what you do?  Do you have a bio that includes some fun facts, or a cause you really believe in?  Look at your website with fresh eyes. Is there a headline on your home page with a call to action? Are all the links working? Are there misspellings? What does your branding say about you as an expert? What does it say to the media?

Secret #3: Learn the Lessons Momma Never Taught You About Being Social 

Leverage the power of social media to reach and impress media partners.

The thought of social media can be daunting if you don’t understand it. You don’t have to be everywhere, and do everything.  Which social media tools do you like? Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram (or the platform of your choice) pick what you’ll use and start engaging with your audience. Stop worrying about being perfect. Make an effort every day to promote your business. You can make an impact with 15 minutes, twice a day.

Action Items: Every day in some small way take an active role in being an expert, or noted in your field. Need content? Set up a Google alert on your ‘topic’ or ‘expertise’ and collect articles to share.  Comment on what’s going on in the news.  It’s OK to be a contrarian and have a voice.

Use social media to share your expert opinion so the press, as well as your prospects and clients, can notice you. Share content. Compliment others. Be a part of a caring community. Consistency and frequency count.

Secret #4: Get On the Inside Track

Take advantage of free publicity opportunities from HARO – Help a Reporter Out www.HelpAReporterOut.com.  Help A Reporter Out offers quality leads for people in all kinds of industries to get noticed in the media – radio, TV, blogs and articles.  It’s published 3 times a day, and it’s easy and free to sign up and get emails in your inbox.  Journalists, editors, reporters and producers will post their queries on HARO and you can respond to them and get recognized as an expert.

Take the initiative and put yourself out there.

Action Items:  Sign up for a free Help A Reporter Out account and take the time to respond to their emails.  Create a one-page template to answer press requests.  Don’t be annoyed by the press inquiries, think of them as your assistant sending you opportunities to build your business and your brand.

Secret #5: Be a Media Magnet, First. Darling Next.

Tell your story often and clearly to gain media attention. Practice makes perfect.

Create and launch media releases that tell a powerful, memorable story that demands attention and generates results.  Look at what you’re doing in your business. What’s press worthy? Are you speaking? Have a new product or service? Create a media release and send to industry publications, local media, and established contacts. It’s the who, what, when and why of what you’re doing – and can be as simple as a new office location, workshop, product or service, or being featured as a guest expert. Be clear and brief in all interviews and press opportunities and offer ‘soundbite’ quotes. Reporters have limited time – so make sure you grab their attention.

Make it easy for the press to find you and keep your PR engine going.  When journalists and bloggers begin to see you showing up in the news, they’ll be more apt to follow you.

Action Items:  Make a list of 5 things that you or your company could write a media release about.  Have video footage?  Even better!  You don’t have to win the Nobel Peace Prize to be recognized.

Secret # 6:  Pitch Don’t Bitch  

Stop complaining about the lack of press and do something about it.

Pitch your story idea to newspapers, radio and TV stations, industry magazines, niche newsletters and blogs. They’re always in need of material. It can be an idea you have tied to a holiday or special event, tips on how a new product or service is helping customers, a community service project you’re involved with or a local event.

When pitching the media, be brief, concise and to the point.  Make your headline interesting.  You never know who’ll pick up your story and where it may go.  Even if it’s controversial, it’s still news! And news fades fast, so keep the momentum going.  Be mindfully persistent, not a pest.

Action Items: Create a bucket of ideas to pitch. Make them short and sweet. Are you a newly published author? (Hint, an e-book counts). Are you a guest panelist at a prestigious event? Do you have a new way of doing XYZ that will make a difference to more than just you? Learn to pitch with perfection.

Secret #7: The Press Are Friends You Haven’t Met Yet

Relationships that matter take time. Identify key press contacts and build mutually rewarding relationships that last.

Make it a point to do your homework and keep your eyes and ears open to top reporters in your region or area of expertise. Press contacts move around a bit, so try to stay connected via social media and keep email addresses current. A savvy admin can help with this task, but ultimately, you’ll be the one to decide who you’d like to watch and follow.

Action Items: A stranger is a stranger till the first hello. Make friends with reporters you find interesting. Follow them on Twitter, and learn the fine art of retweeting. Introduce yourself at industry functions. Send a note that you liked their article and you’re a fan, even if you disagreed with their view point. Send a lead their way. Start the process of ‘getting yourself known’.

Getting noticed by the press is a journey not a destination, and every step and mention gets your name out there. You’ll get recognized as an expert if you promote your brand often enough, everywhere you’ll go. It all starts with a decision to confidently stand out from the crowd.