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!

Sounds like an easy task – to write what you want. Most people start with a list of questions to answer which provides valuable insight, but I also like to add a visual component.

What does a wheel have to do with PR and marketing? This wheel, and the one you’ll draw, is a PR Vision Tool where you decide where you’d like to be seen. You can add spokes, identify opportunities and weight them according to your goals and desires. And, every few months you can reinvent the wheel based on your results and efforts.

Here’s a sketch of my Marketing & PR outline for 2017.

Remember, it’s a work in progress so you can tweak and recreate as you like. Think of it as a recipe for success. Take a look.

Simple? Maybe you think so, but the start of everything great begins by writing it on paper. This isn’t just about manifesting.  It’s about planning and thinking where you may get the biggest bang for your buck. [Free].

Giving comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to come from your heart, and because you want to – not because you have to.

  • Some give to their favorite charity that holds a special meaning
  • Others spend time with the elderly or friends that aren’t feeling well
  • Many donate to a local cause like Globe Santa or Toys for Tots
  • Friends meet up and give back anonymously and in fun ways, like paying off layaway charges at Walmart®
  • Some prefer to support Heifer International to end poverty and promote entrepreneurism around the world
  • Turkeys are bought, soup is served and presents are wrapped to warm the heart. Because we can.

Whatever your cause is, celebrate it.

After all, it gives Reason to the Season.

What’s the difference between being spontaneous and impromptu? Both are valuable skills when you’re at a conference – and especially shooting video.

Impromptu: Done without being planned, organized or rehearsed

Spontaneous: Having an open, natural and uninhibited manner

Sylvia Clare, Author of Trusting Your Intuition: Rediscover Your True Self to Achieve a Richer, More Rewarding Life says: “Being spontaneous is being able to respond with confidence; calmly trusting that, whatever the outcome, you will have a positive if challenging experience that will lead to greater self-awareness and success.”

I say, yup. I’m on board with that, especially if you’re trying to capture real time content at a conference and have an amazing videographer like Ellen Lacey from NewTV for only two hours!

It must have been my lucky day, because the booth in front of ours was empty. We didn’t have the nerve to take it over for the entire day, but we did manage to make it HQ for Robin’s Rainmakers videotaping.

The question to all attendees on the hot seat: What’s your biggest marketing challenge?

  • How can I get more engagement with my cause on a local level?
  • What do I have to do to grow my expert status as a scientist?
  • How do I become the go-to person at work?  (Hint: Candy works, but getting the job done rates higher)
  • What do I have to do to get my boss to notice me so I can get a raise?

The questions and answers were on the spot. Live on camera. I’ve never interviewed in this style before, but I liked that is was natural and almost the same as mentoring a client on the phone or in person. Ideas flow whether you catch them on paper in the middle of the night, in a conversation, get an intuitive hit or remember a fact or figure from years of study or experience. Being open to answers and trying new approaches is vital in video – being impromptu and spontaneous just like real engagement, live.

When you really think about it, what’s the big deal? You wave your hand in front of the camera when you make a mistake. You go with the flow. You have fun and stop being so serious.

Remember, we’re human and people are comfortable with like-minded souls who aren’t afraid of getting out there and learning from experts willing to share. Plus, when it comes down to it, we’re all really experts in training.

My hot seat advice as I write this? Let’s all learn from each other and have a good time doing it.

I haven’t met a smarty pants in years.

Today, I’m giving a talk on Digital Trends for 2017. As part of my preparation, I always like to research what other experts are forecasting and predicting. Their information usually validates my thoughts and offers more data on the why’s behind the findings.

What’s Trending:

  1. Millennials are moving away from public social networks to private ones. Think Facebook Messenger, What’s App, GroupMe. Micro-sharing information and links.
  2. Live video isn’t a maybe strategy. It’s a must have to boost engagement. Plus, there’s limited competition.
  3. Digital Assistants are here to stay. Have a question? Ask Siri, Alexa, OK Google or Cortana.
  4. Customers are using multiple devices to make up their minds to try products and services.
  5. Keywords are more conversational as voice dominates.
  6. Google’s new algorithms are putting more emphasis on local search.
  7. Native advertising is on the rise. More content-like but still sneaky.
  8. SEO and Paid Media spending will grow up to 24% of a marketing budget by 2022.
  9. Brands are creating an “immersive experience” to increase engagement.
  10. Becoming more instant is definitely the way to go.

These are top picks, but there’s always more.

And why are these trends important?

Dense marketing is yesterday’s news. Spend time and money where your target market is. Improve your video marketing and use it to grab attention. Repurpose content in ways it will be seen and shared. And finally, engage with your prospects and customers live. At workshops, events, on video.

Show the real you.

 

Special thanks to contributors Blair Nicole Nastasi, Corey Austin, Lindsay Hutter, Dave Chaffey and Jayson DeMers for their collective insights.

I’ll confess.  As much as I’ve heard of Meetup groups to widen your outreach, I never realized its potential to reach a like-minded audience.

If you’re new to Meetups, they’re a great way to build your expertise, test new brand personas and prospect for clients or potential partnerships. They can also help build a list and extend your influence circle – especially if you’re traveling and speaking out of town. Let’s face it, if you’re already in a new city, why not maximize your time there and promote your business?

If you’re thinking of having an event, one way to test the waters is by creating a Meetup.

As a new Meetup leader, you have a free trial for a month and can start a group on almost any topic you like. I didn’t know what to expect and was willing to give it a try.

Hint #1: To promote your event, give everything you think might work a try.

I was surprised that within three days, I had about 15 people interested in my group and made it a point to email each and every person. You can’t be too salesy, though.  Meetups are meant to start a conversation.

You can imagine my delight when a producer from a local news station in Boston inquired and asked if she could interview me and videotape the event. All from Meetup! I responded quickly, which is appreciated by the press.

Hint: #2. Be quick to respond to a reporter’s request.

I joke that you should be available 23/7, making sure to get an hour of sleep. That’s me. Keep your phone handy and turn up the volume. I always forget to switch from silent to my favorite ring tone.

Hint #3:  Create a media package that explains your event.

A media package means information. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it needs to tell a story quickly. We had written a pitch, designed an event flyer, had a photo ready in several sizes and a working registration page via Constant Contact.

Hint #4:  Whether your event is free or paid, as the organizer, you are the voice of the event.  Always be clear and congruent. A mixed message never sells or gets press.

Hint #5: Learn what works and use it. Meetups is a platform that works depending on how you want to use it. If it doesn’t work for an event, it can lead to other opportunities, if you allow it.  So, set a good intention. Good juju will follow.

Lastly, you can’t just depend on one tactic to promote an event.  It’s a combination of trial and error, as well as proven tactics that have worked in the past.

We called the Mayor’s office for the Kids Gratitude Workshop, posted flyers, send pitches to the press, posted on calendars, invited sponsors, used email marketing from strong supporters and asked for help on social media.

One thing that was different here. The event was designed to teach kids the Attitude of Gratitude and how it opens doors to possibilities you can’t even imagine.

You’ll find that when you believe in your mission and have passion, you’ll have success.

Redefine it on your terms. Not someone else’s.

If you’re in the market to buy promotional products to increase your company’s brand awareness at a trade show, event or conference, it’s important to know the most common mistakes people make – so you can avoid them like the plague.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve seen the simplest jobs go wrong because of a mix up of facts, colors, formats and more.

Take a few minutes and read what the mistakes are so your order comes out exactly as you expect, at the price you want and on time!

Lack of purpose

With millions of promotional products to choose from it’s important to know the purpose of your promotional product campaign. Do you want to increase traffic to your website, landing page or promote a special offer? Based on your answer, you may be surprised that a different product, design or distribution plan may be a better idea. Without a clear goal and purpose, your marketing campaign could be doomed to fail before it really begins.

Not tailored to your audience

A custom beer koozie is a great premium for a bar or brewery, but not necessarily on target with a hospital’s image. I’ve seen buyers select premiums that are cool in their eyes, but just don’t fit. When this happens, marketers are appealing to their own taste rather than their audience’s. Take time to research the interest and hobbies of your target demographic and find a product that will appeal to them. Not sure?  Create an informal focus group!

Bland or generic design

Does your freebie or premium have visual interest? Whether it’s colorful, has a catchy slogan or pattern, you want to be sure your product gets attention and a positive reaction. If you create a giveaway that’s boring and uninteresting, chances are you’ve wasted a timely marketing opportunity. Remember, one of the goals of giving a promotional product is to create interest – in the product, service and the item itself!

What’s your distribution plan?

Before you even order promotional products, determine what you’re going to do with them. Will you give them out at a trade show or will reps hand them out to customers in the field? Are you trying to increase your customer’s loyalty by sending a product in the mail or attract a new prospect, in a totally new target market? No matter how you answer these questions, you can be select in your distribution. And, remember to keep at least a few samples in your file cabinet with important facts like where you gave them out, when and feedback. (You can use an excel spreadsheet too).

Ordering cheap items

Most promo products are fairly inexpensive and cost effective as compared to other types of marketing. I know it’s tempting to save as much money as possible and buy the cheapest products available, but sacrificing quality for quantity can actually cost you more in the long run. Be mindful that what you give out is a reflection of your brand, so going cheap isn’t always the way to go. I’m not asking you to break the bank or your budget, but here’s the deal: Your product needs to be effective, before it can be cost effective.

Printing ineffective information

This sounds like a no brainer, but don’t forget to include your website and contact information on the promotional item. The best product at the best price will be wasted if people can’t reach you. Granted, you have limited printing space to work with, so make every word count to reach your goal. A call to action isn’t a marketing maybe, it’s a marketing must! Premiums and promotional items included.

Not proofing carefully

How carefully are you reviewing the proof your promotional company is sending you? Take it from me, you may want to enlist others in your company to take a look too. Triple check the ink and PMS colors as well the actual imprint position. Once you’ve signed off on a proof and the job is in progress, additional changes will mean tossing out the old, and beginning from scratch. And, you know you’ll have to pay extra unless it’s not your fault.

Being stingy on quantities

Don’t be afraid to order a few extra premiums to have on hand for future events and surprise trade shows or meetings. Most vendors offer quantity price breaks where the price per piece decreases as the quantity increases. A company can often save 10 to 15 percent on an order by just adding more product. Plan out your event calendar and product purchases ahead of time and you can save big time.

Pay rush charges

This is one of the biggest mistakes marketers make and one of the easiest ways to reduce costs. Think and plan ahead! A typical production facility schedules weeks in advance so when a rush order comes in changes must be made immediately at the plant. A standard rush order can result in charges of 25% or more. A next day change for your million-dollar client can be – well, you don’t want to know. I’ve done it and saved the day and you could too. When you’re not in panic mode, ship by ground to avoid high freight charges. If you’re going to fly premiums overnight, why not save the money and travel yourself?

The bottom line is this.  Don’t rush through the planning stages of your promotional products campaign. Effective event purchasing can give you the results you’re looking if you use these tips on your checklist before you buy.

About the Author

Rachel Leone is a client and President of Leone Marketing.  Her firm specializes in finding perfect promotional products for trade shows and events to increase brand awareness, loyalty and recognition.  Rachel works with Fortune 500 brands as well as small business owners to engage, without a diamond ring. Her brainstorming sessions are noteworthy and complimentary. Contact Rachel at [email protected].