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!

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.

You already know that in corporate world, you only get one chance to make a first impression. But what you may not know, is that the “you” who is reading this may not in fact get that opportunity – your LinkedIn profile might beat you to it!

Indeed, more frequently than ever before, everyone from prospective clients and customers to potential business partners and associates are “checking you out” on LinkedIn, which is by far the world’s largest professional networking site with over 200 million members who visit more than 50 million times a week. What’s more, these people are forming opinions, making judgments, and coming to conclusions about you long before you have the chance (if ever!) to say hello over the phone or email, or go in for a hearty handshake or friendly fist pump in person.

Clearly, it’s in your best interest to have an outstanding LinkedIn profile — one that makes the fantastic first (and second…and tenth) impression that YOU want to convey. But how do you create this kind of elite profile? It’s simpler than you think – just focus on these 6 keys:

1. Create a Killer Headline

If your headline suffers from dreaded SOSO (“same old, same old”) syndrome, then to paraphrase Sun Tzu: you’ve lost the battle before it has even begun. Avoid this cruel fate by having a catchy, unique and bold headline that sets you apart, and positions you as someone that people want to connect with. It can also help to put your email address in your headline, so that you send the message that you’re accessible and responsive.

2. Add Relevant Keywords

Be sure to use relevant keywords in your headlines, and throughout your profile (which we’ll get to in a moment). Keywords aren’t just SEO friendly, but they help you stand out in a search.  They also send the signal that you’re digitally savvy, which is certainly a characteristic that you want associated with your personal brand.

3. Write a Focused – and Fantastic – Profile

You know that blurb that might be on your resume – the one that describes your skills in pretty straightforward, ordinary terms? Keep it far, far away from your LinkedIn profile. Yes, people want to know what you’ve done and what you’re good at. But they aren’t leafing through resumes. They want to be impressed and engaged by something unique, authentic and written by a real person (a.k.a. YOU!). There’s so much possibility with LinkedIn to put personality in your profile. You can add photos, videos, special recognition, and so much more. And don’t be afraid to toot your own horn, either. If you don’t believe in your abilities and strengths, how can anyone else?

4. Get a Professional Headshot

I can’t emphasize this enough: if your photo is from the year 2008, or depicts you on a picnic, on a cruise, at the beach, or anywhere else that doesn’t convey the words “professional, poised and confident” then it’s time for a new headshot. As you already know, a professional image counts! Invest in a headshot or professional picture that does your personal brand justice.  You’ll turn heads, and what’s more, people will come up to you at conferences and meetings and say with warmth and familiarity that “they recognize you from your LinkedIn photo!”

5. Ask Others for a Pat on the Back

One of the best features of a LinkedIn profile is the “Recommendations” section. Build credibility with endorsements by asking for recommendations from colleagues, clients and partners. Every positive comment helps build your brand. And of course, remember to recommend others, too – “paying it forward” it always a good policy. Plus, believe it or not, but some people will want to see how you recommend others – so keep that in mind!

6. Keep it Current 

Things move ultra-fast in the corporate world, and it’s easy to let your LinkedIn profile gather dust and grow out of date. It’s essential that you stay on top of this, and ensure that your profile is updated at least weekly. Plus, be sure to join groups, contribute, post and share information that members within and beyond your network will find interesting. As a bonus, the more value you add, the more you’ll show up on news feeds – which will increase your name recognition and exposure in the marketplace. Don’t be the best kept secret in your industry!

The Bottom Line 

A rockin’ LinkedIn profile is just one of the many ways to brand yourself as an expert in your field. Make sure your brand is consistent and noticed on all relevant social media and online platforms. You’ll attract more opportunities and increase your professional reputation by building communities who recognize you as a thought leader in your industry.  Use LinkedIn as part of your online strategy to stand out – and stay ahead!

My tagline is “Don’t Be the Best Secret in Town” and it’s no secret that I love to teach small business owners, experts, authors and professionals how to promote your business and brand. Why? I’ve studied and practiced PR and promotion for over two decades and it comes naturally to me.  I also love to see people succeed and share their gifts so they can sell more products and services.

Even though there are hundreds of ways to promote yourself, there are a few timeless principles that I’d like to share.

1)  Go outside your comfort range and step into the brand you want to be. If that means faking it until you make it, go for it. The feeling is what you’re going for, hand in hand with inspired action. Determine your core values and make every decision from there. You won’t go wrong.
2)  Keep moving forward. We all get discouraged and may want to hide in bed, but that’s precisely when you have to jump back up and restart the engines. There isn’t one flower that I know of that blooms 365 days a year.
3)  Make a dedicated effort to learn. There are countless videos, programs, articles, webinars, classes, and experts in your subject field that know more than you. That’s a good thing. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. I’d rather grow today, thank you.
4)  Acknowledge that you’re an expert in training. We can all learn from one another and even the smallest piece of advice that you take, digest or tweak can move your business in the right direction. Sometimes these experts are disguised and are at networking meetings at 7am. Set your alarm clock for 5:30.
5) Hang with, hire or be a part of a group that’s smarter, richer and more successful than you. You’ll get to where you want to go quicker when you listen to the voice of experience. It’s worth the time, effort and money to hear how others have accomplished goals.
I would add that you want to be accountable to yourself, a group you’ve put together or a Mastermind. But, don’t underestimate the power of a mentor or coach who you trust. Find the right one and they can transform your life and business. You still have to do the work though!
Oh, and write down your goals. When you follow these timeless principles and put pen to paper, or pen to pictures, you’ll become a manifesting machine.

LinkedIn has so many opportunities to showcase your skills, expertise and talent. And, one of the most underutilized PR and marketing opportunities is publishing on LinkedIn Pulse. It’s a platform to write about your expert topic, repurpose your blogs and presentations and engage an eager audience who want to learn more. Posting on LinkedIn Pulse increases your credibility, reputation and ability for others to like, know and trust you, as well as share and comment on your work.

Publishing Articles on LinkedIn is Easy – Here’s How You Do It

  1. First, you need to have a LinkedIn account which can be as simple or complex as you want, but please make it key word rich and complete in all categories – highlighting your experience. Thumbs up to everyone who takes more than 30 minutes to create a compelling profile and posts a professional headshot. (A high resolution photo is always preferred for when you’re picked up by the media.)
  2. There are two ways to publish on LinkedIn Pulse, but the easiest is to post an article from your home page where you see “Publish A Post”. You’ll have an opportunity to write about your signature topic in depth, create a catchy headline, upload a recent image (or create your own graphic on Canva) and then post your The format is user-friendly and whether you know anything about WordPress or not, it should be a breeze. (this is the end)
  3. Consider writing at least two times a month, but weekly is even better. A longer article with about 500 – 750 words is preferred to provide valuable information and insight on your expert topic, and aim to pen at least five paragraphs. Remember, this isn’t a sales pitch. Publishing on LinkedIn is all about showcasing your knowledge.
  4. If you’re short on time, it’s possible to repurpose older blogs and change up the titles, intros and outros, but only if they’re not already posted on Pulse. You probably have a wealth of digital assets and information in your head, so plan to get it all on paper/online and create an editorial calendar to stay on target and for tracking success. Be sure to vary up the times and platforms posting your articles so there’s consistency but not duplication.
  5. Need Inspiration? Even the best writers get stuck for ideas. Feel free to check out topics that are trending on LinkedIn and Twitter, research BuzzSumo, refer to questions clients and prospects are asking, dive into Quora to see what others are inquiring about – and always be listening to what’s going on in your industry and what your target audience should know to stay ahead of the game.

One of my clients is having great success with LinkedIn Pulse. She blogs regularly and writes a weekly article about her expert topic. I love how she’s built her credibility and reputation from writing and engaging with her readers, as well as networking to the max. She’s taken what’s in her head, put it on paper and tweaked it multiple ways to reach a wide and growing target audience.  Always improving her analytics to match leads and sales, she pays attention to the various groups she’s a part of, listening then writing.

Now, if you’re wondering what days are best to post, recent research has shown that it’s typically Thursday and Sunday, but you should check with your own industry trends. Again, don’t send your blog and post your article the same day.  Mix it up to get the max.

Be strategic in your thinking, writing, and sharing.

You’ve worked hard to write outstanding content. Now promote it via LinkedIn Pulse and other social media platforms to reach your target audience, and turn prospects and customers into raving fans.

And the good thing is, it’s all free!

I’m a big believer in using events to grow your business. Events provide a forum for you to showcase your expertise, grow your database, make new contacts and attract new clients.  And, if you’re in the front of the room as the expert and love engaging with the audience, it’s also fun!

In this article  5 Ways to Grow Your Business with Events by Eventgenioso, you’ll find events other than tradeshows to increase your ROI. Some examples? Experiential events for brand activation or product launches which pique the media’s attention. Training or seminars with high profile speakers in your industry, that even the fussiest client can’t refuse. And, incentive travel for new prospects and to jazz up your sales team. Fuel prices are low, everyone loves to travel and you can mix and match programs to target your goals. Have the courage to make it a mystery trip? 

As an INBOUND Guest Blogger (blogging is a great way to get media mention BTW), Joel Comm talks about using live events to drive business. In his post Live Events: The Fastest Way to Grow Your Business, he discusses the importance of meeting new people and building rapport with your audience. First, there’s getting to the like, know and trust stage. Then comes the opportunity to do business. Yes, live events can be fun and should be – but don’t forget the value of finding out what’s new (and trending) from vendors and starting conversations with strangers, who may one day be your client! 

Lastly, Constant Contact’s UK blog lists 7 Events to Grow Your Business with content definitely worth mentioning. You may be thinking networking or throwing a party right off the bat, but what about an Open House? I’ve suggested this to hospitals to Meet the Doc. There are also events to Get a Taste of “your subject”, expert/customer panels where advice and testimonials can be shared openly (great PR) and of course, Breakfast n’ Learn, to start the day off right. Make your own waffles, anyone?

Events work to build business, expert status, reputation and credibility.