If you’re an author just starting out, you probably have another source of income and are always looking for free ways to promote your book.  But published or not, you should know about Goodreads, a social media platform for authors and readers with over 20 million members.  It’s free to join and you’ll find a wealth of information there – plus a marketing program that you’ll definitely want to check out to get the max from your PR budget.

Just like any social media platform, you don’t want to just dive in and ask people to promote your book – even though you want the PR and marketing help.  You have to establish a connection first and get people to like, know and trust you.  Then, they may be willing to help you – especially if they like what you have to say! But remember the all-important rule – You Have to Give to Get.

Goodreads is a PR and marketing gold mine for authors who want help promoting their books and don’t want to break the bank. Here’s how you start:

First, sign up for Goodreads. Explore the website and see what it’s all about.

Next, after you feel comfortable with the format and what members are doing, go to the author marketing program.  There you’ll see a number of ways to promote your book including:

  • Setting up an Author page
  • Connecting your blog
  • Asking for reviews
  • Giving away books
  • And so much more

When you’re a part of the Goodreads community and engaging as an active member, you’ll see the power of PR and marketing at its best.  All of the members have a serious interest in reading – and many are authors so you’ll have a chance to not only ask, but get feedback.  You’ll also have a chance to ask for book reviews, which is important for every author. Note:  Develop a thick skin. Everyone’s not as kind as your mother.

As a small business marketing expert and PR mentor, I can’t stress enough the importance of getting free PR and visibility – as well as advice from marketers in the trenches.  Although most books may be in different genres than yours, the same marketing philosophies and tactics are applicable.

Let go of being perfect and get your message out there. See what works and what doesn’t and change it up according to the results.

We all know the power of video and it’s no secret that in 3 years, 75% of content on mobile phones (and Facebook) will probably be mostly video.

It took some time to get on bandwagon and I’m not sure if I was just being my perfectionist self or wondering how it was going to happen.  But, it did. At the end of last year, I wrote down my goals and in less than two weeks, my YouTube channel was born.

With expert help and strategy, we got to #1 in Google for small business marketing expert, at least for a short while. If that can happen for me, it can happen for you.

So, what’s important for small businesses to know this year about video?

  • You don’t have to have a big budget to grow your brand, create awareness and set yourself apart as a leader or expert in your industry. While many businesses are just blogging, video content often makes a bigger impression – especially when you’re producing and uploading on a consistent basis.
  • Since Google owns YouTube, you have a greater chance of being ranked higher on that search engine. Viewers also typically think: top position = more qualified. Fact is, you can get there by earned status or paid.  My favorite is promoting without a PR budget.
  • Now, you can’t put out video that stinks or that’s not geared for your target audience. Research is a must and your content has to be valuable. Also remember, you don’t have to produce an epic video — it can be simple. An intro video about who you are, testimonials, behind the scenes. See where I’m going?
  • Also keep in mind the length of your video. Keep them short, about 60 – 90 seconds. You can give a tip, an insight, create a montage.  Inform, educate or entertain, but most importantly have fun. Brand personality shows in your eyes, actions and energy – on camera and off.
  • Lastly, you’ll want to upload your content to YouTube, but, don’t forget about Facebook or using Facebook Live so that you’re upfront and personal with your fans and followers. Check these sites too: Vimeo, Daily Motion and Metacafe. And, Instagram and Snapchat? Recent studies show Instagram has 500 million monthly users and Snapchat with a mere 5 billion videos watched in a day.

Time to get into the video game for digital marketing growth?

I hear that as a yes. Start small.  Think big.

Have you heard that you are your brand wherever you go? 

It’s a fact, especially if you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur looking to market your business, increase visibility and make more money!

Your brand story tells it all.  So, be sure you know it inside and out. What makes you different? How did you get to where you are now? Why should someone want to do business with you?

Create a compelling brand story and share it wherever you go online and offline.

  • Make your story compelling.  Moving. And, include your why to make it personal and meaningful.
  • Be sure it’s clear, consistent and that you’re constantly improving your story.  As you share more often, watch that your brand personality and values are always aligned.
  • Practice sharing your story with feeling – and whether you pretend to or not, tell it with meaning.  A phony can be spotted a mile away!
  • Use your brand story as part of a daily PR and marketing practice to grow your small business, build a base of raving fans so you can sell more products and services. You’re in business to make money, right?

The core of your brand story will always be the same, because it’s who you are.

Include your brand story as an important part of your elevator pitch, in person at networking events, in an author resource box at the bottom of articles, on Amazon Author Central when you upload your blog. And always, when you write copy for your website, sales page, speaker page or any material where you want to let people know who you are and why you rock.

If you’re a small business marketer learning the best practices of PR — or even if you’re a marketing expert, be sure of this:

Make your brand story right on, brand on – and always on 24/7. Be sure that it’s compelling and in your voice.  Remember, you are your brand wherever you go, so make it the best brand you possibly can!

Want to hear from other experts on building a brand story?  Check out these articles:

The Secret of Story Telling from Entrepreneur.com

Richard Branson on Storytelling that Sparks Ideas and Builds Brands via Forbes.com

Set an intention to market your small business – even without a PR budget. Learn the tricks, tools and promotional know-how to tell your story.

There’s a certain ring to the ka-ching.

If you’re looking to promote your business and keep pitching, content and social media organized and on topic, consider using editorial calendars.

Editorial calendars can be used in several ways.  One way to use them as part of your PR and marketing plan is when you’re looking to pitch a publication a story.  You’ll want to see what topics the media covers over the course of a year, and that’s usually outlined month by month.

Let’s say you were pitching an article about brides, you typically wouldn’t pitch a story in June at the height of the season, you’d approach editors up to six months in advance when they were featuring brides. Editorial calendars can also be used to make sure your pitch topic is in synch with the publication’s calendar and hasn’t been covered recently.

Another way editorial calendars work is when you create them for your own PR and marketing planning.  You can keep track of your own content, blogs, articles and social media and know when everything is running and have the option to move content around.

As a small business marketing expert and PR Mentor, I like editorial calendars because you can create your own, use a digital form or any variation of the two. You can also create them with an excel spreadsheet or use popular templates, a few of which are below.

Want to know more about editorial calendars?  Take a look at the articles below:   

Here’s a Sample of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Calendar for 2017

And, one for InStyle Magazine Editorial Calendar 

Lastly, Forbes Media 2017 Editorial Calendar

Want to see a few editorial templates?  Check these out for ideas:

Editorial Templates for Blogs, Social Media and Content by HubSpot

105 Types of Content to Fill Up Your Editorial Calendar by Convince and Covert

Editorial Tips, Tools and Templates by the Content Marketing Institute

By using editorial calendars to get press and organize your content, you can be more organized, see what’s popular on social media platforms – and keep your audience engaged!

If you’re looking to gain visibility, leadership position as an influencer and build a niche target audience, think about podcasting.  It’s a PR and marketing tool that clearly shows you have authority in your industry and helps you to gain credibility. It also builds your reputation as a thought leader and allows you to connect with your audience and fans who want to know more about you.

What’s unique in today’s world is that you don’t just create the media – you are the media!

Podcasting is your content, your show and your brand. Clearly, you have an unbridled advantage to inform, educate and entertain – as you like. And, it’s an affordable platform to share your message and build a base of raving fans.

Remember, you can start a podcast on your own or you can opt to be a guest on a podcast too. Both work to build your social media platform. You just need to do it!

Here are a few easy ways to start podcasting:

First, find influencers and experts in your field who inspire you, or who you learn from. Check them out online and see if they’ve started podcast. Search the iTunes Directory for podcasts by categories and see what you find.

Pick out a few podcasts that seem interesting, then start listening. Make notes. Is there a subject       that’s not being covered? Do you have a new twist on a topic and want to attract an audience –   that’s not being served?

As a small business marketing mentor, I want all of my clients to stand out in a crowded marketplace and get the publicity and attention they deserve. Podcasting is just one of the 100’s of ways you can market your brand, gain free PR, improve your Google rankings and show the world you’re an expert.

Plus, you can use free tools like Audacity to record and edit your podcast. This keeps costs low while you experiment and get more comfortable with the platform.

Remember, you’ll need to promote your podcast too. It’s important to get listed on the iTunes Directory but there are other PR and publicity tips to maximize your visibility:

  • Include the podcast link in your Google profile which is great for SEO
  • Put a link on your social media profiles
  • Create a behind the scenes video for YouTube or upload photos to Instagram
  • If you’re an author and have an Amazon Central account, include your podcast link there
  • Interview other experts who want publicity and ask them to co-promote to their lists too

PR and Marketing doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be fun and grow your business at the same time!

As part of pushing past my comfort zone and experimenting with YouTube, I’m creating a series of videos on How to Market Your Small Business on a Dime.

They’re intended to be short and provide insight on a particular PR or Marketing strategy that’s either free or cost effective.

Here’s a YouTube video about the importance of blogging for anyone who wants to be a small business marketing expert. Blogging allows you to be the media and speak in your own voice. It’s a PR and marketing tool to gain credibility, build your reputation and increase leadership position so you can sell more products and services.

As a small business marketing expert and PR mentor, here’s how I recommend you start blogging:

  • Think of topics, questions and problems your target audience wants to know about.
  • What keeps them up at 3am? What do they need to know? How can you help them solve their problems?
  • Start a swipe file where you can collect your ideas, other’s emails, blogs, articles, quotes or graphics for inspiration. Some people call this a folder. It can be both physical and digital.
  • The more you write the better you’ll be. Not sure how your blog post sounds? Read it out loud to check that’s it has a conversational tone. Think about writing to your best friend or best customer.
  • Own your URL or website name. You can post your blog there, plus you can buy another URL specific to the blog’s topic. You can also buy several keyword phrases and direct all traffic to one site.

If you want to learn more about blogging or are just starting out, check out WordPress.com
and the free blogging and website platforms there. They’re user-friendly, mobile ready and customizable.

Looking to see if a URL is available?  For fast results, I like GoDaddy. You may be eligible for a 99-cent deal too if you enter via Google.

Want the insider scoop on social media marketing? Read the blogs and articles from SocialExaminer. They also have a podcast for information on the go.

Another great site to get all kinds of tips and tools for bloggers who want useful customizable templates is CoSchedule.  You’ll find tons of free information about marketing online there.

Lastly, Neil Patel is an online wiz and a world renown marketing expert. Learn from this master at NeilPatel.

Blog to get authority and increase your visibility. And, try to write at least once a week if you can. Every inspired action you take to build your brand, also builds your like, know and trust factor. You need that to make sales.

For other videos about small business marketing and PR, check out my YouTube channel. I’ll be posting as frequently as I can!

Potsquatch caught Meteorologist Jennifer Pagliei of WWLP Springfield, MA off guard when he video bombed her live blizzard report about 10 days ago.  Here’s the video in case you missed it. It was a publicity stunt that went viral.

So far, it looks like the video has been viewed 2,244,874 times and counting. The clip made Mashable, and I hear the Jimmy Kimmel Show, as well as countless other blogs.

Who is Potsquatch?

The pot-looking monster is actually a mascot from the Springfield, MA gardening store, Potco which is well on its way to becoming a store for all things cannabis.

But there’s more to Potsquatch than meets the eye. “He’s a super hero,” says David Mech owner of Potco. “With all the bad things happening in the world, Potsquatch brings some comic relief and is a symbol of absurdity when everyone is massively stressed out.”

What’s his mission?

Potsquatch wants to get people and especially veterans off dangerous opiates and help the terminally ill find natural alternative remedies. He was created to make people laugh and get their mind off problems.

As we all know, pot isn’t a shh shh subject any more. In fact, Business Insider reports that 1 in 5 Americans live in a state where it’s legal to smoke weed without a doctor’s letter.

Where will #Potsquatch show up next?  Your guess is as good as mine. Could he be our next pop-up or T-shirt star?