Thanks largely to technology, in today’s marketplace it’s easier than ever for entrepreneurs, experts and authors to launch a business and profit from their passion. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that competition is flat-out ferocious, which means that marketing is essential. Without marketing, it’s simply too easy for a business to get lost in the crowd and fail to achieve its potential — or even survive.

However, just because marketing is essential, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are 8 ways to achieve your marketing goals on a shoestring budget:

1.    Share your knowledge.

Offer an initial consultation where you provide some meaningful value, and explain what you do, who you do it for, and most importantly, how you help your clients solve problems and achieve goals. Your time investment can be as little as 15 minutes, and it can be done over the phone, via Skype (web cam), or in person if it’s practical to do so.

2.    Stay in touch with your clients and prospects — and often.

While this may strike you as one for the “hey, I knew that already!” file, I’m amazed at how often smart and successful people neglect to stay in touch with their clients and prospects on a regular basis. And really, “staying in touch” doesn’t mean a 2-hour lunch, a 4-hour round of golf, or anything else that may otherwise qualify as relationship-building. Simply sending out a quick email, mailing a hand-written birthday card, or even passing along a thoughtful gift are all excellent – and virtually cost-free – ways to stay on the radar screen.

3.    Create a targeted message in all of your communication.

A confused mind never buys. That’s why it’s important to target your message distribution and branding to customers and prospects via email, blogs, video, invoices, brochures, newsletters, premiums, signage — even your voice mail or call waiting message. Post on social media as frequently as possible and share information. Don’t self-promote more than 20% of the time; it’s not just boring, but it sends people in the other direction.

4.    Build a referral base.

While many successful people rely on referrals and “word of mouth” advertising, I’m continuously struck by how few of them actively build a strong referral base. There’s really nothing to it and, honestly, a little goes a long way. All it takes is a small thank you gesture (gift certificates work great) to those who have helped build your business. Also, don’t shy away from asking for referrals. Just be polite, clear and willing to return the gesture. If a client has enjoyed your product or service, they’re usually happy to recommend you.

5.    Send out a personal “State of the Union” address.

Twice a year, write a personalized letter to your clients and tell them what you’re doing with your work, what charities you may be involved with, and how you’re helping both your professional community, and personal community. Describe how you’ve supported important social events and everyday events — even if it’s for a brief time. Don’t boast about any of your efforts. Instead, thank everyone who has helped make your achievements possible, and single out some of your role models who have served as an inspiration (whether you personally know them or not).

6.    Invite your clients and prospects to hear you speak at an industry event.

Speaking at an industry event qualifies you as an expert. By inviting your clients, you’re letting them know you’re up to something big, and worthy of their business. If the RSVP’s come in as a ‘can’t make it’, send a video, press link or a follow-up article that summarizes your presentation. If you’ve written a book, send a signed copy. This kind of communication and connection strengthens the bond with the people in your network, which in turn strengthens your marketing efforts.

7.    Get your name out there.

If you don’t have a media department behind you, consider hiring a PR, social media assistant or office admin to respond to online media requests such as HARO (“Help a Reporter Out”) or Profnet. Responses to the media should be respectful, polite and on target. Want to know what’s being said about you? Set up a Google Alert. Trust me, you’ll grow to love watching your digital press clippings!

8.    Write an article or publish an infographic that will cite you as an expert.

Promote articles that you have written and post links on your website and social media. Include hard copies in your press kit (and a digital version) in your on line media room. Expand your reach and include articles in letters to clients, and be bold by paper-clipping them and your business card in places that might seem out of the ordinary (i.e. in the cover of airline magazines, in books or magazines that your target audience might buy, in newspapers in high traffic locations — even in waiting rooms or hotel lobbies). Think like your target market. Where would they go, and what would they read?

Don’t Forget to Get Out There

Implementing any, or, preferably, all of the above strategies are excellent ways to boost your marketing power — while spending much less than you imagine. However, no matter how you move forward, there’s one thing to always remember: you’re the spokesperson for your brand.

And that means your #1 marketing job is to get “out there.” Whether that means you support an important cause, make a keynote speech, or are quoted on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, you want to make an impression every chance you get. You never know what relationship will blossom and turn into your next – and possibly greatest – business success story.

PR expert Robin Samora’s new article highlights 8 little-known ways that experts, entrepreneurs, authors and other business professionals can “market like the big boys” – but on a shoestring budget. The full article is available on the Robin Samora Inc. website at www.robinsamorainc.com.

Experts, entrepreneurs, authors and other business professionals who want to “market like the big boys” and yet need to make their limited funds go as far as possible, can now get the practical, proven and little-known tips they need in PR expert Robin Samora’s latest article “8 Tips for Marketing on a Shoestring Budget.”

“With so much competition today, effective marketing is more important than ever before,” commented Robin Samora, the principal and founder of Boston-based PR firm Robin Samora Inc. “And yet without big budgets, how can small and mid-sized businesses compete? My latest article answers this in a quick, clear and easy-to-read way.”

Samora’s 8 little-known tips for marketing on a shoestring budget are:

  • Share Knowledge: Offer an initial consultation that provides meaningful value, and explains how clients will solve their problems and achieve their goals. The time investment can be as minimal as 15 minutes, and this can be done over the phone, via Skype (web cam), or in person if it’s practical to do so.
  • Stay in Touch: Quick emails, hand-written birthday cards, or low-key yet thoughtful gifts are all excellent – and virtually cost-free – ways to stay on the radar screen.
  • Target Messages: Aim all messages to customers and prospects via email, blogs, video, invoices, brochures, newsletters, premiums, signage, etc. Post on social media as frequently as possible and share information.
  • Build a Referral Base: Always send a small thank you gesture (e.g. a gift certificate) to referral partners. Also, never shy away from asking for referrals – just ensure that it’s done in a polite and clear way, and reciprocate the gesture.
  • Send Updates: Twice a year, write a personalized letter to clients and share a “State of the Union” that includes what projects and community initiatives you’re involved in. Also remember to thank everyone who has helped make the achievements possible, and single out inspirational role models.
  • Invite Clients to Speaking Events:  This is a great way to impress clients with your expertise. If invitees can’t make it, send a video, press link or a follow-up article that summarizes the presentation.
  • Get Mentioned: Hire a PR, social media assistant or office admin to respond to online media requests such as HARO (“Help a Reporter Out”) or Profnet. Also set up a Google Alert to track mentions and publicity.
  • Get Published: Promote articles and post links on the web and social media. Include hard copies in a press kit (and a digital version) in an online media room. Also consider paper-clipping a business card in places that might seem out of the ordinary, but that are frequented by target audiences.

Added Samora: “Above all else, there’s one thing to always remember: you’re the spokesperson for your brand. And that means your priority is to get `out there’ and make an impression. You never know what relationship will blossom and turn into your next – and possibly greatest – business success story.”

The complete version of Samora’s new article “8 Tips for Marketing on a Shoestring Budget,” which includes an expanded discussion of each of the above-noted tips, is available at: http://www.robinsamorainc.com/2013/06/8-tips-for-marketing-on-a-shoestring/ 

For more information or media inquiries, contact Robin Samora at (617) 921-3448 or Robin(at)RobinSamoraInc(dot)com.

About Robin Samora Inc.

Telling a story is personal. Sharing it is an art. Technology makes it global. Robin Samora Inc., a Boston based PR, branding and promotions firm blends all three to take its clients’ businesses and brands to the next level. With clients like Comcast, WBZ-TV and Blue Man Group, and a roster of authors, entrepreneurs and experts nationwide, the firm prides itself on being a “Promotional GPS” that takes its clients’ brands where they want to go to be seen, heard, engaged and remembered. With over two decades of experience, the firm is as comfortable on major media highways as it is on out-of-the-way niche back roads.

Learn more at http://www.RobinSamoraInc.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?

Secret #3 –  Learn the Lessons Momma never taught you about being social

Are there misspellings? What does your branding say about you as an expert? What does it say to the media?

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 or LinkedIn (or others), pick what you’ll use and start engaging 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 Item: 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

Be a Publicity Insider — 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 Item: Sign up for a free HelpAReporter 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.

 

Boston-based communications and PR Firm Robin Samora Inc.’s new RSI MediaReady Program is an interactive, one-on-one program that helps clients become “media-ready” within hours, and to create a turn-key audio product to feature on their website or send to prospects. Clients who sign-up for the program via the Robin Samora Inc. website by May 31, 2013 will also receive private coaching on how to successfully respond to H.A.R.O. (“Help a Reporter Out”) and Profnet Reporter requests – a $199 value.

 

Entrepreneurs, experts, authors, coaches and other success-minded business professionals who wish they could be “media-ready” within hours, and who want to easily create a turn-key audio product to feature on their website or send to prospects, can now sign up for PR and communications firm Robin Samora Inc.’s innovative new program, RSI MediaReady.

RSI MediaReady is an interactive, one-on-one coaching program that features:

• Interview preparation and training for clarity, focus, practice and ‘ready-to-go’ promotion
• Q + A review of 15 initial questions, with feedback and comments for review
• Review of answers for sound bite quality and content-specific goals
• Etiquette and media training for on-air and pre-recorded shows and programs
• A recorded mp3 file of the interview questions for future editing
• A recorded mp3 file of the 45-minute interview (“pod cast”), which can be posted, edited or referred to for messaging

Clients who sign-up for RSI MediaReady will also receive a number of special bonuses, including:

• A sample Pitch Letter to a Radio Producer
• A sample Media Release announcing their guest appearance to the press
• A customized list of up to 10 radio shows/hosts who they can contact immediately
• 3 selections of intro and outro music on a separate mp3
• A Special Report: “10 Ways to use Audio to Boost your Brand”

“Across the country, media professionals and potential clients are very interested in booking coaches, entrepreneurs, experts, authors and other professionals for speaking engagements, article and broadcast interviews, or hiring them as consultants,” commented Robin Samora Inc.’s founder Robin Samora, a widely recognized PR and media relations expert who leads each session. “But if these talented professionals are stuck being the `best kept secret’ in their industry, how can they be found? They won’t. And that’s where RSI MediaReady comes to the rescue. It rapidly helps professionals clarify their message and communicate their brand through the media, so that they reach new and better clients – and ultimately, boost sales and profits.”

Added Samora: “In addition to numerous other business benefits that clients will reap, which include improved SEO/SEM, and the ability to rapidly create a media kit and re-purpose content for their other marketing collateral, there’s also a very important personal element to the program, too. RSI MediaReady will turn just about anyone from an anxious media-newbie into a self-assured media superstar, and unleash a level of self-confidence that will elevate every aspect of their life.”

For more information or media inquiries, contact Robin Samora at (617) 921-3448 or Robin(at)RobinSamoraInc(dot)com.

About Robin Samora Inc.

Telling a story is personal. Sharing it is an art. Technology makes it global. Robin Samora Inc., a Boston based PR, branding and promotions firm blends all three to take its clients’ businesses and brands to the next level. With clients like Comcast, WBZ-TV and Blue Man Group, and a roster of authors, entrepreneurs and experts nationwide, the firm prides itself on being a “Promotional GPS” that takes its clients’ brands where they want to go to be seen, heard, engaged and remembered. With over two decades of experience, the firm is as comfortable on major media highways as it is on out-of-the-way niche back roads.

It’s so much fun to see clients update their brands and showcase their expertise. One of the ways we’ve been helping business owners do this is with their e-books, and promoting them to their target audience.

One of my colleagues and clients is Ceri Rueneck from www.ItsYourCall.com 

Ceri is an expert at business to business telemarketing; cold calling, lead qualification, lead nurturing and trade show event follow up. She’s a powerhouse of information on the subject, as well as a speaker, trainer and yes – an author with her e-book, Cold Calling for the Clueless.

We targeted Ceri’s e-book via national media release to her target audience; the industrial market, manufacturing/production, enterprise software, and electronics and multimedia, to name a few. In the release, we highlighted her expertise, quoted her as an authority, and offered a link to download a complimentary copy of her e-book.

Every click drives traffic to her website and blog, provides her team with sales leads, and showcases her as an expert for speaking engagements – not to mention it’s a great press opportunity to build her brand.

I got an email from Ceri this morning letting me know that a request for her e-book came in from a business in South Africa. How fun.

Take what’s in your brain and put it on paper. Collect what you’ve been writing and gather it in one place. Re-purpose your content to make a product and share your expertise.

An e-book is just one way to showcase your brand. Ceri’s brand just went international.

How ‘bout your brand? Up for the challenge?

As a mentor to entrepreneurs and PR enthusiast, I’m often asked what to say as part of an elevator speech – those two or three sentences you memorize, rehearse and deliver in front of a business or networking group. I’m a firm believer that your perfected pitch can initiate and spark engaging conversations and open doors of opportunities to connect, anywhere in the world.

“So, what do you do?”

Formerly a Nervous Nellie and reluctant presenter, I can speak from experience that public speaking gets better with practice and you can overcome the anxiety of a mini-introduction when you don’t overthink it, try to impress people or be someone you’re not. How often we forget how fabulous we are!

Here are five (5) Tips to Creating a More Effective (and Personal) Elevator Speech that will Help You Stand Out from the Crowd:

  • Have An Attitude: Be upbeat and animated in your introduction. Your energy should be contagious so people will want to know you.
  • Solve a Problem: What do you do, sell or promote that solves a problem? Your introduction will resonate with someone in the audience who has a need.
  • What Makes You Different? Be memorable, and fun. LOL is free. Sometimes, I introduce myself as ‘Rockin Robin’. What’s catchy about who you are or what you do?
  • Be of Service: Allow people the opportunity to get to know you. Be generous in your time and attention. I give prospects a free 20 minute consultation on how to get more PR. My advice is genuine, to the point and I’m happy to offer new ideas.
  • Connect the Dots: Engage with your audience, expand your circle of influence and be willing to kiss a few frogs! You never know who others may know.

Here’s my last tip. Take out your iPhone, set it up on the counter and push record.

See what others see in you, not just the flaws you see in yourself.

It seems like an oxymoron. How do you “work a room” without being there? The answer is one of those potent networking secrets that very few people know – and in a few minutes, you’ll be among them.

Let’s dive into this by way of an example. Imagine that you’re a new author from Boston, and have just written a game-changing book about social media strategies. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you’re traveling, and can’t make it to the biggest social media conference in the country until the very last day. How can you make a splash and meet the top dogs in the room – but without making a dash?

In the past, you couldn’t. But now, if you apply these little-known tactics, you’ll be able to “work a room” like a seasoned networking pro without being there:

1. Do Your Homework

Research the conference and identify the main organizer contact (this information is usually on the website, or in a press release, or can be found with a little digging). Then, introduce yourself via email, social media and a phone call. Offer to help with promotion, and share any tips or suggestions that will make you look great. For example, if you know of a great and little-known restaurant in the area, share that information. What seems like the smallest or simplest tip can be extremely well received.

The bottom line is that you’re being helpful, positioning yourself as a strategic ally, and you already know one person who will personally welcome you with a smile when you arrive at the conference. Plus, if there’s a special someone or a celebrity that you’d really like to meet, chances are this new connection of yours will go out of her or his way to make that happen. After all, one good turn deserves another, right?

2. Connect with Speakers

Check out the conference agenda and see who the speakers are. You may recognize some of the names as industry leaders, and it’s perfectly fine to give them a call or connect online. But, chances are, there will be other speakers you don’t know (yet). This is an ideal opportunity for you to reach out and make connection. Tell them how much you enjoyed their last article, blog, book, TV appearance, etc. Also mention that you’ll be attending their upcoming conference, and when you get there, you’d love to say hello.

This pre-connection strategy works for any meeting, whether you live nearby or 3,000 miles away. Connect with the speakers via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or FaceBook. Just because they’re speaking doesn’t mean they don’t want to connect with people – in fact, they’re in the “people connecting” business.

One last thing: if you use social media to connect, make sure that your profile includes a high quality photo. This will really help your new connection remember who you are, and recognize you.

3. Get Ready to Talk

Once you arrive at the conference, find your “top targeted” speaker, introduce yourself so you’re remembered (as noted above, ensuring that your profile has a professional photo of you goes along way here!), and start up a conversation.

Also keep in mind that you don’t have to come across as a “raving fan” if, in fact, you aren’t. Talented professionals appreciate praise – as we all do – but they’re also open to new and different points of view, as long as they’re presented politely and professionally. So be prepared to share your opinions. Who knows? Your insights could be the BIG THING that this expert remembers long after the conference – and that could spark a relationship that lasts for years.

4. Own the Q & A Session

And of course, make sure that you attend the Q + A session where your top targeted speaker will be presenting. Scope out a good position in the room where everyone can see you. When it’s time to ask a question, ask a thought-provoking question that you’ve prepared well ahead of time. Since you’ve already personally connected with this expert, there’s a much greater chance that you’ll be addressed by name, and that there will be instant rapport – which is something that others will notice and that could really boost your credibility.

Plus, here’s a very powerful and even lesser-known secret: before asking your question, introduce yourself as the author of the newly released book on changing social media strategy, give your Twitter handle, and then pause. Don’t be surprised if heads turn, and people want to meet you after the session.

If you haven’t already, start a Bio (biography) for your Press Kit. What’s your background and expertise? What have you been most proud of? What are some off- beat things people don’t know about you that make you interesting? Start writing and share your greatness with your favorite 8 x 10. Ideas are just words that can always be tweaked later. You may like what you write!

As seen at M.O. What’s Yours

MO: What influenced your decision to use your expertise in specifically helping entrepreneurs?

Robin: I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was a little girl, selling potholders on my bike and Girl Scout cookies door to door. Both of my parents were also entrepreneurs, so it was natural for me to think about business, and we talked about it all the time. I didn’t realize how much I could help the small business owner until I looked at my own experience helping major Fortune 500 corporations expand their brands, to get attention. I realized the ideas and principles were the same, only on a smaller scale. I love the fact that the entrepreneur has a dream, a vision, and passion to make it happen. This excited me because I could use my experience and creativity to help them succeed, and feel the impact personally.

MO: What are some tips for a new business looking to expand their brand and increase visibility in a crowded marketplace?

Robin: This could be a half day seminar – but here are some thoughts! First, above all — you are your brand. Let people know who you are, and get out in the marketplace. Get out from your computer. Be comfortable with promoting yourself, everywhere you go. Attend networking events, have a non-traditional approach to meeting people, and be open to try new strategies for connecting. Engage in social media just 30 minutes a day. Make HARO.com (Help a Reporter Out) your best friend to get press mentions. Write articles for industry journals, and a blog to increase your SEO. Get a feature story in your local paper, set up open office hours at a coffee shop and use a laptop ad to promote your business. Show your expertise any way you can and don’t be embarrassed to promote yourself. Your main business should be getting your name out there in business, and in your community. This will give you a competitive advantage. Be consistent, make the time to expand your brand, and be true to who you are. Love yourself, love your business!

MO: Can you provide some advice that entrepreneurs can gain credibility and PR as an expert in their field?

Robin: My advice to gain credibility as an expert is to be proactive and seek out opportunities to get press, and be featured as an expert. The internet is your oyster. Be a guest blogger, be interviewed on Blog Talk radio, answer questions in business journals, get speaking gigs about your expert topic — even if you’re speaking to a small audience. Lead a panel, share the platform on a webinar, be a guest on a teleseminar series, post on other people’s blogs as an expert. Teach a class. Take all of your press mentions, and everything you’ve done and include it on your website, and link it to your social media accounts. The bigger your footprint, the more you will be recognized. The added bonus is that you become more confident, and believe in yourself as the expert you really are.

MO: What inspired you to create the, Let’s Make You Shine Fund, which empowers young women with a gift, to further their education? What kind of impact have you seen the fund make so far?

Robin: This is my inaugural year with the Let’s Make You Shine Fund. I’ve always believed that we all have gifts, and when you give back and share, you get so much. My first recipient will be using her scholarship to attend Holy Cross College. She was an exceptional candidate, and her plans are to study medicine. My only request is that she, and all others who are recipients, pay it forward at some point in their lives. If each one of us shares their gifts and pays it forward what a better world this will be.

MO: What are some examples that you help your clients be big and bold for getting the best results? Not sure I understand this – but here goes

Robin: I like to co-create opportunity and visibility plans with my clients and listen to their hopes and dreams for their business. We look at where they are, where they want to go, and where they’d like to be noticed. We’re all so busy in our own world that we sometimes can’t see the forest through the trees. My passion is to take my client’s vision, show them a path and ideas on how to meet their goals and objectives. Then it’s all about inspired action to get results.

MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?

Robin: I’m working now on developing a plan to help entrepreneurs get more media coverage. It’s exciting , and a great opportunity to build my own brand. Everyone deserves to shine.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott, amednews staff. Posted Sept. 10, 2012

Online marketing strategies are important, but experts on marketing medical practices say it takes more than a virtual presence to persuade people to visit a particular physician and tell friends and family to do the same. Practices may have to use some good, old-fashioned paper, metal or plastic to get out various messages.

“Patients are seeing 10,000 messages a day,” said Steven V. Dubin, president of PR Works in Kingston, Mass., who works with medical practices “If you want yours to break through the clutter, you need to make sure it’s high-impact and in different forms.”

Such marketing efforts do not have to consume large amounts of money or staff time. Actually, some of these six quick and cheap ways to get the message out are deceptively simple.

1. “Open to new patients” sign. A physician’s current patients may be his or her biggest fans, but they may not know the practice has room for more. A sign in the waiting room saying something along the lines of “Your referrals are among the highest forms of flattery” or “We are accepting referrals at this time. We appreciate recommendations to your friends, family and co-workers,” may persuade current patients to help spread the word.

“A lot of people won’t think of referring until you ask them to,” said Robin Samora, founder and president of Let’s Make You Shine, Business and PR Strategy, a public relations firm in Boston. “You need to tell them you have an opening in the practice.”

The sign should be professionally created out of metal or plastic. Handwritten signage can look tacky and be a turnoff, public relations experts said.

2. Tchotchkes. Another suggestion from experts on marketing medical practices is to offer an item that is appropriate for the practice and that patients would like to use. For example, a pediatric practice could give children silicone wristbands to promote awareness of various health-related causes. Calendars and magnets with the practice’s name and address may work. Practices encouraging physical fitness may do well handing out branded pedometers.

“Practices need to consider their target market and how they are going to reach them,” Samora said.

These tchotchkes may serve as reminders to current patients about the practice, but others also might see the information. For example, a refrigerator magnet may be an easy way for a patient to find a practice’s phone number, but it also could be noticed by visitors.

3. Office open house. Depending on the type of practice, an open house could show established patients that they are appreciated and introduce the office to potential patients. The open house may include an educational component, such as a brief presentation by a physician, or minor health screenings, such as blood pressure checks by other office staff. Or it may be a chance for patients to sit down casually with a physician to discuss philosophy of care. An open house also many be an opportunity for a practice to show off a redesign or new equipment.

“This can be a learning opportunity for both parties,” Samora said. “Patients get to ask questions, and physicians learn what the common questions are.”

These events can be promoted through communication with patients who are asked to invite friends and relatives.

4. Public speaking event. Community organizations usually are looking for speakers, which means opportunities for physicians to talk about their areas of expertise. This, in turn, can make the practice more attractive to current patients and bring in new ones. Marketing experts advocate talking to audiences who mirror the kind of patients the practice is hoping to attract.

“Give your knowledge away,” said Rina Shah, principal and founder of Rilax Strategies, a communications consultancy based in Washington. “What you know about medicine and wellness is interesting and valuable to others. Offer to speak at local health expos, to women’s groups or business clubs on a topic related to public health. You will gain valuable exposure.”

5. “Buck slip.” A billing statement can do more than ask for money. It can include a “buck slip,” or dollar-sized piece of paper with information about the practice, available services, honors the physician may have received recently and requests for referrals.

“You’re already sending out the piece of mail,” Dubin said. “You might as well take advantage of that.”

These may be created simply and cheaply on office word processing software and then photocopied and cut to size. Or they can be more complicated and glossy if ordered from an online printing house for about $100 per 500.

6. “We miss you” mailing or phone call. Attracting patients to a practice is sometimes less about persuading new ones to come in but more about reminding established ones to return. Patients who have not had contact with the practice for a certain amount of time can be mailed a letter or called by staffers. Some patients may have moved or gone through other changes that mean that it is more appropriate to go elsewhere. Or visiting a doctor may have just slipped their minds.

“People are busy and have lives that are moving at a million miles a minute,” Shah said. “It’s important to get them to think of your practice.”

Experts on marketing medical practices say these efforts should fit in with a plan that includes virtual as well as real-world strategies. All messages should be consistent and suit the practice.


Elliott covers practice management issues. She can be reached at 312-464-5577 or by email (victoria.elliott@ama-assn.org).