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.

This past weekend, I traveled to Washington DC to speak at the Code(Her) Conference. It was exciting to present at the Washington Post about one of my favorite topics – How to Promote Your Business Without Breaking the Bank. My message and mission holds true anywhere in the world. You don’t have to be a millionaire to market you brand, you just have to know how to do it. And, do it!

It’s always rewarding to teach budding professionals and socially conscious entrepreneurs how to share their message in an authentic way. Clarity is important as it provides a foundation, but from years of experience it helps to have a sounding board. You can start a business on your own, but you can’t build a brand by yourself. So, get some help and make it a team effort. Then, everyone can be part of the success.

  1. Be clear on who you are and where you want to go. Don’t sell yourself short. We often think we can’t go as far as we’d like. That’s just a story we tell ourselves to be safe. It’s BS. Go for it. Learn. And keep going.
  2. Create a roadmap for your particular goals. If you’re looking for quality leads, take a look at where your best customers are coming from, or research what successful competitors are doing. Consider every option to get the biggest bang for your buck, then choose wisely.
  3. There are 100’s of ways to promote your brand for free, but a savvy marketer will start small, see what works and then build out. Mistakes are part of the process. Get over it and move on!
  4. Use PR and Marketing tools to attract a base of raving fans. If women are your target market, try Pinterest.  If that’s  working, add Instagram.  Then create a series of videos to launch a YouTube channel. If you’re a visual brand, be visual.
  5. Consider speaking. Even if you’re not getting paid, speaking builds credibility as an expert. It also fuels sales, presuming you’re in front of a room of your target audience. If you’re not presenting to ideal prospects, look at hidden opportunities.  Work the room, so the work comes in.

Above all, whether you’re speaking, networking, online or offline – just be you. Align your work with your personal and professional core values. Write down what you want to do with your business and life, because they work together. And of course, make time for fun. You know life isn’t a dress rehearsal.

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!

Many of my clients want to up their speaking game and get paid to speak. I’m all in favor of that to increase your brand and business – but it takes time, effort and planning to do it right.  The first step is to create a roadmap to get there.

Want to get Paid to Speak?  Here’s How.

  1. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Speaking for Free. Every speaker I know has spoken for free, at least in the beginning. You need practice in front of a room, and in front of your target audience to see what works and what doesn’t. Start with a small group, gain your confidence, then set your goals higher. You’re in the driver’s seat. It’s up to you how fast you want to grow.
  2. You’re Not Just a Speaker, You’re the Show. Event organizers have to be sure that when they hire you, you’re not only a serious speaker, but an amazing one! To be a great speaker you have to master your topic, connect with your audience and be in command. That takes a lot of practice, feedback, and there may be setbacks too. Consider a speaking coach if you want to be top notch.
  3. You Deliver Results. As you build your speaking career and go from free to fee, you’ve got to add value. Have you identified your target audience? Do they have a particular problem or pain?  Do you have the answer with a branded program, system or training? If you’re solving a problem and have credibility with supporting results, you’ve built value.
  4. Your Video Reel Rocks. If you want to be paid to speak, invest in a professional sizzle reel (video), speaker sheet, headshot and marketing collateral. Before you send out your first pitch, make sure that all of your materials are professional, well branded and showcase you at your best – speaking! You have one shot to make a good impression. Be smart, strategic and have your act together.
  5. Visibility Counts. Speaking frequently makes you a better speaker and also widens the opportunity for others in the audience to hire you too. You are your brand wherever you go, so make marketing a way of life. Remember, you’re in the speaking business.  Use social media platforms where you’ll get attention. And, include lots of video.  Launch a YouTube Channel, feature testimonials and promote your upcoming events as a way to say you’re in demand. Earned media like PR counts too!
  6. Get Out There. To gain experience, some speakers align with a company that’s in their industry where they can be hired as a brand ambassador. This might be an option if you want more stage time and a chance to promote your own services. Look around and see what’s happening in your field. You just might find the perfect gig and get paid!
  7. Sell Products from the Back of the Room. I’ve known more than a few savvy speakers who’ll speak for free to a room full of their target audience. That’s where they sell high-margin programs, products or books – even if they have to pay a percentage to the house. When you’re negotiating, remember it’s not just about hard finances. Payment can also include email marketing to a designated list, speaking at a future event, webinars, VIP workshops or sponsor mention. Be creative in how you want to be compensated.
  8. Speaking is a Business. It Takes Time. Like any business, getting paid as a speaker takes time to ramp up and be profitable. Your job isn’t just to build a brand, but an amazing brand that’s recognized in your industry. To master the speaking game for a big fee, you have to be committed to excellence. Get on stage. Put in your time. And, reap the rewards.

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.

I’m on a Facebook kick lately – to add to the mix of free and low-budget ideas to promote your small business. And, the reason is pretty clear.

If you’re a small business owner, consider a Facebook business page. It’s another forum to showcase your brand, expertise and personality. Just sitting there, your Facebook page is a missed opportunity for visibility and new business.  Work Facebook so it will work for you!

Here Ares 15 Ways to Get More Facebook Likes:

  1. We’re wired to look at pictures, so use images. Take your own, buy interesting stock photos or use free ones. Look at these links for image ideas. Facebook loves video like Facebook Live, but it’s not so crazy about YouTube links.  Guess why?
  2. Have a personal profile?  Consider linking your Facebook page as ‘where you work’. Chances are, you’ll get added traffic.
  3. Cross promote with other pages that are complementary. You’ll find out very quickly who is reliable. Choose partners that are partners.
  4. Create a Facebook Group as a way to build prospects and trust. This can be a no-selling zone, but you could have a Promo-Monday. Remember, people don’t come to Facebook to be sold.
  5. Tag other pages in your posts. That creates a potentially bigger audience for you.
  6. Make a welcome video that’s compelling and include it on your fan page. That allows prospects to get to know you better and see how you can improve their life or business.
  7. Craft and email to your list and ask them to like your page. You can also add a call to action in your email signature.
  8. Collect your prospects and client’s questions and use that content to answer posts. It’s relevant to your audience.
  9. Point followers from different platforms to your page, especially if there’s a good discussion going on. There are no rules here. Experiment.
  10. Keep your posts short, sweet and personal. Fans like to know there’s a person behind the brand. Don’t confess your deepest darkest secrets of course, but engage to gain the LKT factor. (Like, know, trust).
  11. Discounts? Yup. Flash freebies (first 20 people to…) Yup. Shareable images like infographics also work to build engagement.
  12. Have employees? Going to a trade show? Build your likes. Ask and you will receive.
  13. Speaking? Ask your fans to tag themselves when they upload pictures. Then their friends and followers will also see you.
  14. Customize your Facebook background banner on Canva or other design sites. Make sure you’re consistently branded, but don’t forget to also include a call to action. Ask people to Like My Page!
  15. Lastly, every once in a while, include a PS at the end of your email like, Connect with us on Facebook. PS is a powerful Promotional tool!

Take a look at Boston University’s #BUGiving Day and their social toolkit. I’m not sharing this just because it’s my alma mater. I like how it’s put together.  It’s a content-rich example on how to develop your own communication tool to share news, special events and promotions.

I signed up to help support their event and received an email follow up asking me to be a social brand ambassador for the cause.  “Sure,” I thought.  “Why not.”

First, here’s the email that I received:

Hi Robin:

Thanks so much for signing up to receive email reminders about BU Giving Day 2017.  The big day is now just two days away, and we couldn’t be more excited!

I’m reaching out today to remind you to save the date for Wednesday, and to spread the word to your fellow Terriers that #BUGivingDay is coming.  We’ve put together this social toolkit to help get you started.

We’d also love it if you joined us as a social ambassador.  When you sign up, you can link your favorite social accounts and receive emails with easy one-click sharing when we have new content.  You also have the chance to win some great prizes just by signing up.

Thank you for your support of Giving Day – you help us make a huge difference in the lives of BU students today, and for years to come!

Thanks,
Phil

When I saw their social toolkit, I was intrigued. When I opened it up, I loved how it was organized with easy to read headlines and sections.  Giving Day Basics. Examples of Facebook posts and Tweets. Facebook Cover Photos. Instagram Pictures.

Great job BU.  Not just cause I’m from COM. It’s good work.

If you think that email marketing is dead, you’re dead wrong.

Email marketing is alive and well and growing every year.  As a marketer, you can use email 24/7 for distributing a variety of content – offers, photos, coupons, links to where you have been published and so much more.  In fact, you can share personal stories, testimonials from clients, blogs, articles, surveys, press releases and almost anything you think of that will be of interest to your subscribers.

But, to build a viable email list, and turn prospects and customers into raving fans, you must get their permission before you hit send. You definitely don’t want to be known as a spammer! Whether you use Constant Contact, where I’m a brand ambassador or another email provider, you’ll want to learn best practices on how to grow an audience who like, know and trust you.  Why?  So your target market will eventually buy from you.  You have to attract, convert, close and then delight your customers.

Marketing is a process, not a race. Prospects consider buying your products and services, they don’t have to.  They first have to gain your trust. Creating and distributing valuable educational content via email marketing is a fantastic way for people to see what you’re all about. Email marketing attracts strangers through content, keywords and social sharing.

What can you do with email marketing to grow your business?  Check out my YouTube video to find out.

Engage your target market, create a lasting bond, get feedback, inform, entertain, share news and accomplishments. Let them see you as a human, after all humans do business with humans.  Again, just be sure you have your reader’s permission and offer an opportunity to opt-out or unsubscribe at any time. No questions asked!

The power of marketing is greater than you probably ever thought. Here are some stats from HubSpot where I’ve recently been accredited as an Inbound Specialist.

  • 3 billion+ email accounts send 196 billion emails every day
  • 91% of consumers check their email every day
  • You own your email channel; (I call it your ‘owned’ media)
  • 77% of consumers prefer email for marketing communications
  • Email has a marketing ROI of 4,300% — Wowza!

Want more info? Check out these links on email marketing:

A Quick Guide (and Infographic) on Email Etiquette from Entrepreneur.com

The One Word You’ll Want to End Your Emails with to Ensure They’re Read from Inc.com

How to Add 128 New Subscribers to Your List Every Day from Neil Patel.com

Promethus, best known in Greek mythology as the Creator of Mankind said this:

“Big things have small beginnings.”

Thousands of years later, a Greek marketer from Boston concurred. “Start small, think big,” she said.

We’re both right.

 

A few months ago, I met Kim Lundgren at the Unmask the Greatness in You Conference, sponsored by the Center for Women and Enterprise. I was a featured mentor and she booked time with me for a half-day marketing intensive.

What does Kim do? Her company, Kim Lundgren Associates creates sustainability dashboards for local governments.  She’s on a fire. In a good way. Busy booking business and growing her brand on multiple platforms.

Kim and her team met with me last week. What did the day look like?  Here’s a glimpse. 

Four (4) hours of high intensity training on how to foster deeper relationships with clients, increase visibility, secure speaking gigs, gain PR, generate leads, build out your brand, promote your podcast, get free press, maximize upcoming events and then not go crazy.

Here’s what Kim had to say:  

“Robin opened my eyes to the vast opportunities and resources available to not only promote my brand but to actually grow my business. In just 4 hours, I have a renewed sense of excitement and a clear set of priorities to focus on.”

If you’re looking to get clarity, where to focus and spend your time and PR and marketing resources effectively, consider a VIP Day. Don’t get blinded by your blind spots.

Find Out How a VIP Day Can Grow Your Business

I keep forgetting how easy it is to get free publicity.  If you know where to look and how to respond, it’s straightforward. But, you have to have discipline.

My favorite site for free PR is HelpAReporter.com, commonly known as HARO.

Last month, on December 20th I was featured in an article on kids, parents and gratitude  on CNBC.com, 5 Ways to Teach Your Kids the Art of Giving This Holiday Season.

A couple of weeks earlier, FS Local wrote a story, Picking the Brain of a PR Pro! Behind the Business with Brand Expert Robin Samora.

Do You Want Free Press? Follow these 7 Steps to Get Picked Up by HARO Reporters

  1. First, sign up for HARO and get daily emails from reporters and journalists.
  2. When you see a query that interests you, make sure there’s a fit.
  3. Make your pitch short, concise and be sure there are no misspellings or mistakes.
  4. Don’t deviate from the questions, stay on topic. Be light, bright and polite.
  5. In the subject line when you respond write: HARO: and copy the title of the query.
  6. Include your contact information, website, email and phone number. Be available 23/7.
  7. Don’t stalk the reporter or follow up, unless they ask. Do your best and become a resource.

The more practice you have pitching a story, the better you’ll be. And, once you start getting published, the more you’ll want to respond.

This is earned media and you’re showcasing your expertise.

Sure, responding to HARO and other sites takes time, but the rewards far outweigh the work.

Sign up this week, and get the visibility you deserve!