Your business is growing, you’re taking on more clients and the responsibility that goes with it – and you’re swamped.  There’s no question, you need help.

But, you’re so busy, you don’t have time to think about interviewing or training someone new.

Sound familiar?

Luckily, there are ways to build your team without spending too much time away from your business. The key is to find qualified people who work independently and already know about your industry – and what needs to be done.

Ask many of the successful entrepreneurs you know and they’ll tell you. They’ve hired outsourced independent contractors for jobs like a VA (virtual assistant), social media manager, graphic designer, web master, editor, email marketer or PR specialist.

These professionals are business owners themselves and can help you become more productive by taking tasks off your plate so you can your spend time doing what you do best – and earning the most.

About 5 years ago, I hired Lisa, who is my right and left hand. Even though she works virtually and lives in New Mexico, I trust her to always look out for me and remind me of everything I forget. And sometimes, that’s a lot!

If you’re looking for a virtual assistant to help with your business so you can concentrate on your brilliance, read these articles…

In How To Choose A Virtual Assistant, Karyn Greenstreet shares her journey in moving away from a personal assistant and hiring a Virtual Assistant who lives 2,500 miles away.  Her valuable insights and excellent tips are noteworthy.  Remember, there’s a learning curve involved.  They’re not you (that’s why you hired them) and they’re not always in your time zone!

If you aren’t sure what types of tasks a Virtual Assistant can do for you and your business, Entrepreneur Magazine provides a list of 10 Tasks To Outsource To A Virtual Assistant. I am eternally grateful to my first VA who got my daughter out of New Orleans in her freshman year during the scare after Katrina. She kept close contact and guided Lauren off campus and to the airport – with an overnight in Chicago – and calmed me too, along the way.

Before you start the search for your own virtual assistant, check out this article ‘When is a Virtual Assistant not a Virtual Assistant…?!’ by guest blogger Michelle Dale.  She explains the virtual part in virtual assistant – just so we’re all on the same page – and part of the world.

Ready to be less stressed and more productive?

I thought so. Think about a VA.

Life is sometimes a surprise and when you put yourself out there – to promote a brand or yourself using PR, you really never know what the outcome will be – or where you’ll be seen.  You just have to believe!

Surprise on me/us, when we heard this weekend that my friend Steve and I would be on a billboard in the Boston DMA to promote the Nova Star cruise ferry from Portland Maine to Yarmouth Nova Scotia. How did we get there?  We were featured in a TV commercial last year for the NovaStar promotion and one of our photos was chosen for the ‘fall’ digital billboard campaign.

NovaCruise

Now, we aren’t part of SAG-AFTRA; we’re two entrepreneurs who decided to take part in the commercial shoot on Steve’s birthday while we were celebrating in Kennebunkport. We never knew when this kind of experience would present itself again, so we said YES!

You can stay in your same old/same old over and over again until you are bored to tears with your life.

You can get PR and promte yourself and your business in the same old way, but, you’ll never get different results. So, shake it up!

This is PR and promotion at its best.

It’s fun! It’s unexpected, visual and shareable.

When you take advantage of PR opportunities like this, the path is unknown. If you move forward with intention and positive energy, life will respond in kind, almost pixelating.

We had breakfast with Carly Fiorina this past Sunday and heard The Donald (pumped up and rearing to go) at a party a couple of weeks ago.

Your life and business can be as full as you want it to be, and as BOLD as you choose.

Ditch the fear and get on board.

When you celebrate who you are, then everyone else will get on board too!

Robin

PS – I’m offering a 3 Month PR Intensive to 10 small business owners, professionals and entrepreneurs who want to boost their brand and income. Write me at Robin@RobinSamoraInc.com  if you want to create a PR Roadmap that will take you from where you are now, to where you want to go!

Over Memorial Day, I had a tremendous opportunity to go to Charleston and Savannah. They’re both beautiful cities, each with a style their own.  If I had to choose where to live, it would be a tough decision – but I think Savannah would probably win!

Walking through Savannah, you can’t help but feel the historical energy of the city – and more than a kick of new and funky style.

Businesses are booming here and a steady flow of street traffic and out of town visitors allows marketers to get ‘city-specific’ to attract their target audience.

What better way than car wrapping!

I love this photo because it’s mobile advertising at its best, taking the concept of the tour company’s service one step further by adding an extra detail, a passenger!

SpookyVan

If you think mobile marketing is just having a smart phone compatible website, think again.

It’s scary what you can do when you get creative!

Here’s to this ghostess with the mostess, promoting her brand.

How good are your people skills? Are you friendly, engaging and above all, helpful? I forget how good my people skills are, as it’s just part of my nature – but I know that referrals are a substantial part of my business.  Would you like to increase your referral base even more? I’m hoping that’s a big YES!

New to how this works? Let’s take a look:

Start with Why Every Business Needs a Referral System by Marc Wayshak for the Huffington Post. One of the points Marc makes is “Referrals beget referrals: When you make a sale from a referral, that new client is going to be more inclined to refer you to others in his network as well. Think of it this way: You’re creating an army of unpaid salespeople who recommend you to other potential prospects.”

In Five Formalized Referrals Systems to Grow Your Sales, David Finkel makes this point for Inc Magazine. “The bottom line is for you to make sure asking for referrals is a systematized, automatic part of your business.” I’m sure we all could use this strategy even more, to build a strong prospect pipeline.

Then in The B2B Referral Sales System – The Magical Outbound Growth Engine Most Startups Never Use! we find a referral sales script as well as a referral intro-email template. Is this something you could use? Again, let me hear a big YES!

In the end, if you have great customer service skills and deliver an excellent service or product, referrals will start coming your way. However, helping them along will speed up the growth of your business and will speed up your success.

I’m a speed demon for success, you?

I’ve had the opportunity to travel in many circles – with students who are launching their careers, professionals on the path to success, and CEO’s who run multi-million dollar companies. The brightest of the bunch have characteristics of the “rich and famous” and exude confidence, abundance and a can do attitude in life. More of a why not, than why.

When winners promote themselves, they become who they want to be and step into that role looking ahead, never behind. After all, opportunities are in today’s world, not yesterday’s.

The rich and famous, and those on their way up, share these promotion secrets:    

  • They Act the Part. It takes time, planning and a boatload of confidence acting as if on the path to success. Forward thinking and inspired action to meet your goals trumps the sad sack, sit at home blues. Show up as the person you want to be, everywhere you go. And remember, you’re not an imposter, you’re a creator.
  • The Rich and Famous Attract a Great Support Team. You can’t be totally successful on your own, at least not for the long haul, without some help. It takes the dedication of a team to support you financially, physically and emotionally. And let’s add planning, communication, promotion and marketing to the mix. It takes time and focus to build and maintain a brand and a few thousand thank you’s along the way. Gratitude is more than an attitude.
  • They’re Willing to Give it Their All. A CEO once told me that he woke up at 5am every day to drive 90 miles so he could be the first one in the office. After the company went public, he heard from a co-worker, how lucky he was. “I worked while they slept,” was his comment. “I guess I was lucky I got up early.”  No one can stop you if you know what you want and are willing to work for it.

Act the Part, Play your Role and say Thank You – from your stage, or any stage in life.

 

How many conferences do you attend each year? It can be a lot of money for you (or your boss) to fork over. Yet, they are so worth it! Conferences don’t just provide continuing education for your industry, they also provide priceless and countless networking opportunities.

The BEST way to get the most out of your money and time is to prepare well ahead – so you can plan the networking and follow up process to your BEST advantage.

21 Tips For Meeting People That Will Rock Your Next Conference is packed with excellent ideas and tips on what to do before you get to the conference. Tips like ‘bring business cards’ are a no-brainer, but also ‘check out the gym’, ‘be a mindful fan, not a nuisance’ and of course, ‘tweet that you’ll be there to meet other attendees’. I highly recommend this read to be best prepared. I’ve written an article on this subject myself and you can read it here.

While you’re at the conference, there are several must know’s that will come in handy – especially if this is your first really big conference. I like the featured article because it gives you five good tips that you’ll want to implement.‘If you’re going to spend money and sacrifice a valuable chunk of time that could be spent taking action, then it had better be worthwhile.’ Take a few minutes to read 5 Tips for Making the Most of a Conference.

Once you’re home from the conference – or on the way home – trust me, you aren’t done! The real networking and relationships come after you’ve met. They continue online and across multiple platforms. Here’s Nataly Kogan’s take on it: 10 Tips to Maximize Networking After a Conference.  She gives several do’s and don’ts on how to continue those conversations and give tips on how to make those relationships blossom.

I’d love to know where you are headed this year and what your most valuable tip is to someone who is a first time attendee.

Every month we’re featuring a guest blogger who writes on a topic I think you’d be interested in as a small business owner, entrepreneur or professional who wants to increase their company’s recognition, awareness level or leadership position – and maximize their marketing and PR dollars for promotional ROI.

Today’s blog article is from my client, Robert Rebholz, Co-founder of www.WeSellVisibility.com and industry insider who sells promotional products with ‘zing’ for not that much ‘ca-ching’.

Robert uses his talent for writing and takes advantage of that in his branding to keep in touch with customers, tell a story and make it entertaining.  You definitely want to check out his ‘Pick of the Week’, especially if you buy promo products and hate the SOSO (same old same old) — or any mistakes!

The ABC’s of Buying Promotional Products – by Robert Rebholz  

Promotional products, (also called swag, giveaways, tchotchkes, bling, premiums,) can be a very effective and cost efficient way to advertise and promote your business. And here’s why:

  • 80% of consumers own between 1 and 10 promotional products
  • 60% keep them for up to 2 years
  • 53% use a promotional product at least once a week or more often
  • 88% of people who have received a promo item recalled the advertiser for up to 12 months after receiving the item
  • 62% of these people recalled the advertiser’s message

Studies show only 71% of people can recall an ad they saw in a newspaper or magazine from the week before!

Here’s the point I want you to take away:  this stuff works, people hang onto it, and they use it.

A promotional item does not have to be expensive to be effective. It does need to be useful. Useful items are retained, and that’s what you want as an advertiser.

But, what’s useful? Well, that depends on where you want to be remembered.

Do you want to be remembered in the office? Then think about items like notebooks, sticky pads, pens, desk accessories, wall calendars.

Do you want to be remembered in the home? Then you would consider things like kitchen utensils, magnetic memo boards for the fridge, tote bags, coasters, BBQ tools.

Interested in items that can work anywhere? Think about cell phone chargers, USB drives, water bottles, umbrellas, caps and T-shirts. (Note) Notebooks and sticky notes work everywhere.

Think about who you are going to give this stuff to and what they would find useful.

Alright, you’ve thought about all of the above. You’ve decided you can use promotional products to advertise your business. Here’s what you need to know about buying these items:

  • All items will have a minimum purchase quantity. On less expensive items that minimum might be 100 to 250 pieces. Sometimes you can buy less than the minimum but you’ll be surcharged.
  • All items will have a maximum imprint area. That’s the largest available area for imprinting your logo. The point is — don’t try to print everything about your company on the side of a pen. It won’t work.

It’s also good to know about industry terms and what they mean:

Artwork (that’s what the industry calls your logo or whatever design you’re going to put on your promo item), needs to be in the proper format. The universal format for promo items is what’s called “vector art.” It’s too complicated to go into it here but vector art is a high resolution file that won’t distort and will print clearly. Jpeg, tiff and giff files won’t work. If your logo isn’t in “vector art,” spend the money to get it created in this format.

Colors There are “spot” colors (think of one or two distinct colors on a T-shirt design), and there is “full color process” (think of a refrigerator magnet that looks like a full color photo). When you see the catalog price for an item it includes the first color. Every color you add is going to cost extra.

Set up is the charge to prepare your artwork for whatever process is being used to imprint your item.

Time One of the problems with technology is that we’ve all become accustomed to instant everything.

The problem is that this is a manufacturing process and it takes time. Most products will take somewhere between 7 to 10 business days to produce. Add to that the shipping time. Many of the industry suppliers are located in California and that’s 5 days by ground to the East coast or less, depending on where your business is located. Allow yourself a good 2 to 3 weeks to have your order produced and shipped.

Proof  A proof is a virtual representation of what your design is going to look like on your product. Always insist on a proof and always go over it with a fine toothed comb. The last thing you want is for your 1,000 pens to arrive with a typo!

What can go wrong?  Everything!

The two areas where a project can go wrong are artwork and time. Have your logo (in several  versions) in the proper format before you start your order. Give yourself enough time to deal with any glitches that might come up.

And now, a quick word or two about pricing.

You can get pretty much any promotional product through an on-line distributor. Their prices are often lower than what a local distributor might be able to show you. They work on huge volumes and small margins. If you know exactly what you want and don’t need any help, this might be the way to go. If you need advice and guidance you should go with a local distributor. As someone famous once said, “you get what you pay for.”

You now know:

  • Promotional products work as a way to advertise and brand your company.
  • Pick something that’ s useful to your target audience
  • Have your logo (in several acceptable to you versions) prepared in the proper format well before you begin the ordering.
  • Give yourself enough time

If you stick to these guidelines you will have a successful promotional product campaign.

Thanks to Robert for sharing this mini course on premiums and promotional products. With over 30 years’ experience as a marketer and helping businesses ‘getting noticed’, you’ll always get solid advice and be in good hands! 

I’m blessed to work with clients who want to increase their visibility and take their message to the next level.  They understand that public speaking – or speaking from the stage – allows them an opportunity to reach a bigger audience, have more impact and connect on a deeper and more personal level. 
 
That said, many speakers who haven’t had the privilege to work with Toastmasters, or practice with a private coach or mentor, may feel anxious in front of a room and stop themselves by not sharing their message because of fear of going blank, looking stupid or freezing on stage. I’ve had all those fears and  still take a deep breath and ground myself (as best as possible) before every presentation.  
 
Yes, it does get easier after every speech – and with practice – but it’s always helpful to learn speaker success secrets along the way.  Here are a few I’d like to share:
 
5 Speaker Tips to Take You to the Top

  1. Divide the room into three, and pick one person in each section to look at. This will allow you to connect eye to eye with at least 3 people in the audience, but also give you an opportunity to scan the room.  Think of each of these three people as your friends. They like you.  They want you to succeed. Let them feel that.
  2. Put some energy into your smile. Showcase your personality. Even if you feel like you’re ‘putting it on’,  overdeliver.  Audiences typically have chosen to hear you and want to see that you’re not only an expert, but also enjoy your topic, are informative and in some cases, entertaining. You can be a boring speaker, or an upbeat one. Ask me, I’ll tell you that upbeat trumps boring, any day of the week.
  3. Have a kick to your step. When you walk on stage, come in from the side of the room (so people aren’t looking at your backside, lovely as that may be). Let the audience know you’re enthusiastic about speaking to them. Movement, except jiggling change in pockets, helps a speaker relax and look more experienced as they address the audience from different angles of the room.
  4. Go with the flow.  I once spoke in front of 200 people and the wrong presentation came up on screen. At first I was horrified, then laughed and acknowledged my shock to the audience.  I’m grateful that they laughed too, seeing my vulnerability. The moment of truth came, I showed up fully and got 3 new clients.  Phew!
  5. Give to the audience. Offer to share your presentation. Promote a special offer to connect with them on social media.  Ask for their support  — you’ve got the stage!  This may be the first time you personally engage with them, but it doesn’t have to be the last. Remember that members  of your audience could one day be prospects or clients – and refer you to other revenue generating activities.

Above all, be grateful and appreciative for the opportunity to be in front of a willing audience who is there to hear your message. Practice does make perfect, but you’ll never  know your full potential and power  if you don’t put yourself out there.  

YOUR TURN:

Do you practice a ‘lucky’ routine before every speaking engagement? Care to share?
Who is your favorite at home audience? Your iPhone, kids, or BFF?  
How do you pamper yourself before and after a speech?  

Speak your truth, share your voice, and show up 100%.

The Web’s Best PR, Marketing & Social Media Wisdom

If you’re tight on time, but want to stay up to speed on our industry’s latest news, stories and ideas, I hope you’ll like the articles we picked this week to feature on Robin’s Rainmakers – The Web’s Best PR, Marketing & Social Media Wisdom.

Our goal, as always, is to provide you with a variety of content on PR, Marketing & Social Media to gain more visibility, revenue opportunities and expert status.

Here are this week’s picks for Robin’s Rainmakers:

PR Is The New SEO by Uwe Schmidt for PR Insider

There was a time where you could ‘game’ the system by only buying SEO services. That’s now over. Long live unique, user-oriented content and be sure to eliminate this…

Brands Under Fire by Rosanne Mottola for PRSAY®

Take a look at five brands that have come under fire for ill-advised ideas or mistakes. Read who they are (you may be surprised), see what they did (or didn’t do) to make this list and learn from their mistakes, like Malaysia Airlines…

7 Types of Content Reporters Want in a Press Release by Serena Ehrlich for PR Insider

The Business Wire 2014 media survey asked reporters what types of news they want to see in a press release. Besides the obvious — breaking news — here are six more. Keep this on your desk when you’re writing and make sure to include…

Hope you enjoy these articles, and feel free to share with a friend!

If you’re tight on time, but want to stay up to speed on our industry’s latest news, stories and ideas, I hope you’ll like the articles we picked this week to feature on Robin’s Rainmakers – The Web’s Best PR, Marketing & Social Media Wisdom.

Our goal, as always, is to provide you with a variety of content on PR, Marketing & Social Media to gain more visibility, revenue opportunities and expert status.

Here are this week’s picks for Robin’s Rainmakers:

PR Is The New SEO by Uwe Schmidt for PR Insider

There was a time where you could ‘game’ the system by only buying SEO services. That’s now over. Long live unique, user-oriented content and be sure to eliminate this…

Brands Under Fire by Rosanne Mottola for PRSAY®

Take a look at five brands that have come under fire for ill-advised ideas or mistakes. Read who they are (you may be surprised), see what they did (or didn’t do) to make this list and learn from their mistakes, like Malaysia Airlines…

7 Types of Content Reporters Want in a Press Release by Serena Ehrlich for PR Insider

The Business Wire 2014 media survey asked reporters what types of news they want to see in a press release. Besides the obvious — breaking news — here are six more. Keep this on your desk when you’re writing and make sure to include…

Hope you enjoy these articles, and feel free to share with a friend!