If you’ve been in business for even a few years, you can agree that there are lessons you’ve learned that you probably don’t want to repeat.  Some were gentle, others not so much. Teaching moments are just that, opportunities to look at a problem a different way.

5 Business Mistakes That Can Save You Thousands  

  • Don’t ask a disgruntled co-worker for a favor on their last day. They may disappoint you or make a severe mistake. Such is the case many years ago when I worked in corporate.  I asked a colleague to send an email intended to Mr. Buckhead and it went out to Mr. F*head.
  • Match your dress code to your client. Before I started my business, I was working Full Time and took side gigs. I remember going to a lawyer firm with a red leopard jacket. I thought I looked great. The navy blue buttoned up client apparently not. This is a $25k lesson you can profit from.
  • Refrain from calling clients or partners at night. Eager to deliver great news, I called a new JV partner after hours. Little did I know he was a drinker and went really off the handle. This gave me insight to much bigger potential problem, he was a misogynist. I think I still own his URL.
  • Listen to your body to avoid exhaustion. Early in my career as a life coach, I took appointments till 10pm. Not a great idea. I caught myself dozing near the end of my call. “Robin, Robin are you there?” You’re not sharp 24/7 so be mindful of resting. Not sure if I snored, but I dropped out.
  • You’re Not a Mind Reader but Pay Attention. The best intentions sometimes go askew because you may be unaware of a colleague’s dire personal or financial pressure. Create boundaries that are in alignment with who you are. Keep promises. Support, but don’t be a punching bag.

It’s no surprise, marketing on a budget is my sweet spot and I love to see other expert’s strategy. How to Scale Your Marketing Without a Marketing Budget, featured in Entrepreneur.com, shows you how to dangle a juicy carrot to generate leads and sell a less expensive product to gain an audience – and make money. Read it and let me know what you’ll offer.

Have big plans but still want to save? Check out this list of 50 free marketing tools from my friends at SmallBizTrends.com. Some you may know Yoast and HARO, but what about Majestic, Sniply, Promo Republic, Recite This and Answer the Public?  See how these tools can help you.

And lastly, if you’re looking for a cheat sheet, download 50 Ways to Promote Your Business on a Dime. Thousands of marketers without a million-dollar budget have used this resource to grow their business. It’s a collection of marketing and PR tips that I’ve curated over the last year to increase your visibility and sales – without breaking the bank.  Download a copy for your files.

It’s no surprise that digital marketing is on the rise, beating out print and other static platforms. That’s why traditional media is working overtime to influence their target audiences online and start a healthy conversation. The beginner all the way through to the expert knows that you have to engage before you start the buying process. LKT (like, know, trust) will always rule.

For small business owners, digital marketing doesn’t have to be rocket science, but you should at least have a strategy. Just like going to the moon, you hopefully wouldn’t launch without a plan. Trial and error works at NASA and when you’re building your online brand.

Here’s a Preview of 5 Digital Marketing Trends for 2018 [Hint, they’re here already)

  • Take a look at the way Google explains Micro Moments, where a customer expects brands to cater to their needs via their mobile phones.
  • Plain and simple, customers have a love affair with video. A combination of high quality video content as well as interfacing with more informal Facebook Live. Video captures attention and attracts eyeballs/buyers. Get on the wagon if you’re not already.
  • Native ads are beating out interruptive ads. There’s a growing frustration over pop-up ads. But, for some reason, customers don’t seem to mind content that just happens to show up, be it advertorials, sponsor ads or recommendations placed right in front of them.
  • Bring on more dynamic content and websites, and please make it personalized! Invest in content developers who are skilled and savvy to satisfy existing customers and attract prospects by word of mouth.
  • Nurture a team of influencers who will be your brand advocates. One happy customer tells another and TADA! you’ve started a snowball effect. To quicken the effort, and if budget allows, hire a celebrity, YouTube star or industry blogger to speak on your behalf. Money talks and people listen, if they’re aligned.

If you’re an expert in your field, you know how important it is to stay up to date with what’s going on.  But, it’s not always easy because there’s so much information out there. As a recovering perfectionist, I limit myself to a few hours a week reading, browsing online and skimming headlines.

This Week’s Info About Audio Tools to Record, Transcribe and Save Time:

  1. Don’t want to pay for transcription services? Check out this cool Dictation tool that allows you to record from your computer microphone, save and copy text.  Google Docs Voice Typing may also be a favorite as it records your voice in up to 43 languages. Available in Chrome browsers.
  2. Afraid to miss something? Meet Cogi. Use this voice recording app to records conversations, important meetings and ah-ha moments to share and get feedback from team members. Plus, keep all the information in one place.  Available as a freemium version and paid version.
  3. Are you the next Voice star? The Parrot app lets you record, play and share your voice, even songs for your next big audition. You can use it as a dictation device, record phone conversations with the Pro version, and it’s all in HD. Check out TheParrotApp for details.
  4. Like to record your next Skype call? You can, with these tools. Amolto, Callnote Premium, and Ecamm call recorder. Prices vary from free, to 30-day test trials and purchase with lifetime updates.  Worth a look if you want to record audio and/or video on Skype.
  5. Need professional audio editing? You can pay zippo or look at a couple of affordable audio solutions with a sampling of these easy to use productivity tools. Audacity, WavePad and Adobe Audition, which you can try out with a free trial.  My advice is always the same.  Try before you buy.

One of the reasons I love helping small business owners, entrepreneurs and experts is because of what you say when you’re true to yourself. When nobody’s looking and there’s no judgement, you peel away layers of should haves and perceived mistakes. In the trust zone, there’s nothing to hide and everything to gain.

Part of my work (and joy) is asking the right questions to find out what’s at your core.  What you really want to do and why. That’s where you discover your inner beauty and authentic sexiness.  The essence of you.

In marketing and PR, that’s your sweet spot. The you we want to capture, position and promote. That’s the brand we want to nurture, develop and showcase. It’s also the brand that’s aligned with who you are – and where you’ll always have integrity. That’s where you find the money flow.

Many of us have repeated real-life and imagined sad sack stories of past failures. They’re probably not true, they’re certainly not now, so why waste valuable time thinking about it?

Truth is, you are the real deal, the big kahuna.  Those that should be attracted to you (in business and in life) will be, for the right reason. Clients, prospects, partners and friends. They’ll like you, love you and sometimes leave you. Hint: it’s always about them, not you.

  1. It’s exhausting to be someone you’re not and try to remember who you’re supposed to be. If you’re an actor, you’ll find this easy to do. If you’ve chosen other work as an entrepreneur, business owner, expert or professional, it may be more difficult. You don’t have to read a script to know who you are.
  2. You’re living life according to your true core values. You are who you are, and without a manufactured front you’re quite appealing, aka sexy. If you know anything about energy, there’s a sparkle to those that are true to themselves.  Some call it certainty, knowingness or being grounded. Certainty is confidence in my book, and that’s sexy. Passion is always a plus.
  3. We’re taught to be perfect in everything we do, and in doing so, we often pretend. When we truly relax in our head and bodies, our fight or flight responses shut down. When we’re able to stop pretending and just be, it’s very inviting and welcoming. Yes, it’s being vulnerable, but that’s sexy too.
  4. Give up caring what others think. It takes some practice, but it’s actually quite invigorating and often a huge burden off your shoulders. Do the best you can, and call it a day. We’re humans. We make mistakes, say stupid things and do brilliant work, not all at the same time. There’s a certain charisma when you’re comfortable with yourself. Almost automatically, confidence and charisma knock at the door.

Being sexy is a mindset. Authenticity is a choice. Blend both together and you’ve got some big-time attraction going on.

Listen to your sexy self to grow your business. It works.

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.

If you’re a small business today, chances are you’re on social media, in one way or another. If you’re not, prospects and customers may wonder why. An active online presence is even better – and shows not just that you’re in the digital age, but you want to connect with your audience. And, that’s important to them!

9 No-Brainer Social Media Tips to Grow a Brand

  1. Find Your Audience and Stick with it. You will never be Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful who everyone loves. Find your buyers online and grow that list into a base of raving fans who always want to know more and buy.
  2. Lose Perfection. Get content out there. Nothing is ever perfect, and that’s especially true when you start out. Experiment with posting and see what’s popular with your audience. Tweak and adjust from there.
  3. Go with Your Gut. One of the first mistakes I made as a copywriter was asking for the opinion of a handful of people. Was I on target? Was my message clear? Bottom line, pick one person who you trust as an editor and trust the process.
  4. Do What You Can Do. Stop trying to be Superman® or Wonder Woman®. I used to think I had to be the be-all end-all, especially when I was starting out. Pick and choose your copy, platforms, schedule and go with it. Build from there.
  5. Forget About Being on the Cutting Edge. I hope you are, but don’t be disappointed if you’re not. I’m thinking you’re working on and in your business, so if you’re on pace with your industry or ahead of your own time that’s probably good enough. See #2. Lose perfection.
  6. See what’s trending and go with it. PR pros call it newsjacking. I call it smart marketing. Check out one of my favorite tools, Buzzsumo.com and punch in your keywords. What are people writing, talking about and sharing?
  7. Figure Out Your Call-to-Action. What do you want your followers to do? Click through, ask a question, take a survey? Just be you, the expert, and make sure you’re always engaging in your brand’s tone and voice.
  8. Automate to Save Time. Using tools like Buffer, HootSuite and Edgar, you can plan ahead, save time and money. After all, you should be in your genius time as much as possible, not copy and pasting.
  9. Be Patient and Test. We’re not in life-saving mode. We’re discovering our voice and connecting with our audience and other influencers. Don’t stress, mistakes make us better marketers!

Social media is just one piece of the PR and marketing pie. You’ve got dozens of other promotional tactics to promote your brand and grow your business. The key is that all should be working together towards a common goal.

Tweak, Test and Try. 3 T’s to Ta Da!

I’m a sentimental soul and remember my dad not just on Father’s Day, but other days too. I can’t imagine my life without his entrepreneurial inspiration, guidance, acceptance of my crazy ideas and endless hours of listening to my questions – at the kitchen table as a kid and through the years, working on and off, from about 8 years-old to when I got my first full-time job after college.

As a mentor, he shaped my life until the day he died. This is for you, Dad.

Words of Wisdom from a Serial Entrepreneur

  • Being an entrepreneur is the only way to go. You can set your price and your schedule. It’s not always easy, but it’s always yours.
  • Make friends with your competition. This wasn’t such a welcome idea at 14 when he asked me to invite all the ‘pretty’ girls to a party. He told me I would assess the situation quickly. Ouch.
  • If I die at the lake, throw me in the water with my briefcase, you and your brother will collect double.
  • It’s not so much about the cost, it’s about the terms. If you want it, go for it. You can figure it out later. He said this with a pencil, always behind his ear.
  • Pick a point on your drive home, then leave your business there. It will still be there on your way back.
  • A happy wife is a happy life. My take on this age old advice: living in harmony is good for everyone.
  • Don’t burn the candle on both ends. You need to rest.
  • Pick the right partner that will support you thick and thin.
  • Travel and see the world. Life is short. Have fun!
  • Take care of your family. They’re why you work so hard.

My dad also told me I should study PR, even when I wasn’t quite sure what it was. “You’d be good at it,” he said. Years later, I figure he was right.