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?

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Phill Naylor who produced my YouTube channel.  In addition to being a YouTube expert, he also owns a digital marketing agency, Xtralarge Media.  What’s his insight about Facebook Marketing? In short, explore the possibilities creating look alike audiences to expand your reach.

10 Ways to Attract New Business with Facebook Marketing (and Creating Look Alike Audiences) 

  1. Set up a Facebook Business page to connect with your audience. It allows you to gain the like, know trust factor, build a community and show a behind the scenes look at what you’re doing on a day to day basis.
  2. Use Facebook groups as a way to showcase multiple products and services — if your brand has different branches and audiences. With one business page, you can speak to all of your customers and fans without them scrolling through every post.
  3. Learn Business Manager/Power Editor. You can download the application for free if you have a Facebook Account. This allows you to explore far more marketing options than inside the traditional Ads Manager.
  4. Upload your email list to Facebook and create an ad targeted to just them. This allows you to market to people who are already receiving your information.
  5. Create a look alike audience of your email list to market to. This expands your own email list powerfully.
  6. Install a Facebook pixel on your website. With this pixel or line of code, Facebook will track everyone who visits your website and you can extend your reach.
  7. Create a look alike audience of people who visit your website. Keep testing to monitor results.
  8. Ask Facebook to track anybody who visits or likes your Fan Page and advertise to them.
  9. Create a look alike audience of your Facebook Fan page traffic. See what that delivers.
  10. Lastly, ask Facebook to create an audience of anyone that has viewed your videos (and then create a look alike video audience). You can track multiple analytics, like how long they’re watching, where they stop and so on.

Although I understand Facebook as an important marketing and PR tool, I wasn’t aware of all the look alike marketing possibilities and the power of email marketing, taken to a whole new level. And, we haven’t even discussed retargeting!

Phill has a new Facebook group, Local Ads Academy where he’s hosting free classes. If you want to learn more, email him at Phill@Xtralargemedia.com and ask to join.

About Phill:

Phill Naylor is Founder of XtraLarge Media | 10 Ways to Attract New Business with Facebook Marketing Phill Naylor is Founder of XtraLarge Media, a digital marketing firm that focuses on helping clients get the biggest bang for their buck with video and social media advertising. He is an expert in Facebook marketing and works with small business owners to power up their brand, rank high on YouTube and influence prospects to buy. He believes video and Facebook will reach more customers than any other platform combined.

Have the Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media changed about sharing your political views? I guess it depends on how you heated up you are personally (or not) over the current state of affairs—and if you want to share that publicly as a business or brand.

Brands have a core message and stand tall for what they believe in. They can also influence, motivate, alienate or outrage prospects, customers and audiences. We see that in a big way today with swings to the left and to the right in Washington, and all over the country.

As a PR Mentor, I suggest to my clients that they keep their brand or company comments on target to their core message and core values. If your brand is a political one, that’s a completely different story.

In the past, there were 5 Subjects we never talked about on Social Media:

  1. Sex
  2. Politics
  3. Money
  4. Sports
  5. Religion

Today, each of us is the media.

We can share our opinions openly and for free. I honor that and am grateful for that right. But, how will your message affect your brand if you are the spokesperson – or you are the brand?

  • Do comments about sex, partying and boozing it up online affect a job search?
  • In a divided society with emotions high, do political comments help or hinder your ability to be a leader, get a promotion or win a prize client?
  • Does talking about having lots of money alienate you in a world where many are struggling?
  • Are you infuriating fans of one sports team (and possible customers) when you are obnoxious about a recent win of your rival?
  • In a world of many religions, faiths and beliefs are we helping or hurting our brand with off the cuff or insensitive comments?

Ultimately, it’s up to you how to position your brand, and what to say or not say on social media.

Before you post ask yourself two questions. What’s my intention? What’s my end goal?

Whatever message you share, be sensitive to how it will be perceived.

It does matter.

This past Saturday, I got an email that my HARO contributions were published in this article, How to Never Run Out of Blog Topics for Your Website. I always love getting press and aligning with other industry experts like Ann Handley, Chief content Officer of Marketing Profs and author of the book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content.

In this quick read, you’ll find tips on how to create blog topics.  You can also check out two of my favorite free tools; Tweak Your Biz Title Generator and Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator. Punch in a few key words and get 100’s of title and content ideas – some that are crazy, but others that can be used for blogs, articles and almost anything you publish. I like to call them idea generators, to spark your imagination!

I hope you generate some great content and business from these free PR tools!

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!

Last week I talked about Digital Marketing Trends for 2017. Becoming more instant, conversational in key words, voice activated, uber local and focused on niche target audiences. Hashtags. Data driven.

Not sure how to take advantage of these digital trends? Check out these 5 ways to build your brand:

  1. Turn your smartphone into your own media channel. Capture an event on Facebook Live, or better yet, “You Go Live.” Be transparent in the moment and let your audience, friends and followers see where you are and what you’re up to. Building a fan base is not about hiding. It’s about engaging. 80% sharing, 20% promoting. Don’t forget about a (CTA) call to action.
  2. #Hashtags. Hashtags connect like-minded audiences. They’re brilliantly used by big brands and little brands to inform, inspire, motivate and sell. Not convinced? Look at Instagram. It’s a wildly popular personal and business platform that’s hashtag crazy and instant. Same with Twitter. Share your photos, thoughts, quotes, videos and story behind the scenes – and in front of the camera.
  3. Get really local. For all that you may hate about Facebook, there’s a lot to love. Consider Facebook advertising to get leads, grow your list, create a funnel. Want to reach 25-40 year-old women who speak French and live thirty miles from Belmont, MA? Oh, and that have a combined household income of $100,000+? Invest 20 minutes and start a campaign. Spend as much or as little as you like. You will be amazed.
  4. Create keywords (and Adwords) as you would a conversation, especially with voice activated systems in place. Honda Dealership near here. Thai food in Boston. Christmas Tree Lighting this Saturday. Test to see what works and monitor often. Don’t be afraid to change things up. Tweak as you like, but make note of all your tweaks!
  5. It’s no surprise that digital marketing budgets are growing leaps and bounds. In fact, in the next few years corporate America may spend up to 25% of their marketing budget on digital marketing.  But, only if it’s working. How do you find out? Split tests. Consistency. Data. ROI. Numbers. Run yours and see what’s working, or not.

One of the questions I’m frequently asked is, “How do I market my blog?” There are hundreds of ways to promote a blog via PR and publicity, but I decided to ask Google the same question.  In less than 30 seconds, I found this article, How to Work with a Virtual Assistant to Market Your Blog. Hint: You don’t need a VA to do the work.  You can do it yourself or share the task. Heck, you can even ask your savvy teenager to help out!

In the post, Chris Ducker shares a list of almost 200 blog directories that you can submit your blog to. The list is a few years old, so I wanted to share a more recent resource by Harsh Agrawal who promises an epic collection of 131 verified blog directories. I’ll be curious to see what works and what doesn’t.  Information changes in a moment’s notice, so sometimes good enough is good enough. It’s the action that creates marketing momentum.

Lastly, I’d like to share HubSpot’s Guide to 50 Online Local Business Directories. You may find something new here to increase your visibility, brand awareness and exposure.

Oh, and sales.

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.

I’ve been speaking more than usual lately, and I love it.  Mostly, because I was scared to death of speaking for years and never thought I would never have the nerve to get up and talk about what I know best: PR, branding, small business marketing and being able to combine the core values of your business and personal brand to help you achieve your best version of success.

For some it could mean improving your expert status, credibility, reputation or visibility. For others, more speaking gigs, opportunities for joint ventures or sponsorships. And that all leads to sales of one kind of another. No sales, no business.

Confidence in sales is a must have.

Here are 7 Confidence Building Exercises to Increase Sales (and your Mojo)

  1. Begin with a pep talk every day. Make one up according to where you need to go, who you need to see, how you need to feel. Practice conversations in your head and in front of the mirror. Change it up frequently. Ask your partner, spouse, friend or dog to tell you how great you are.  Say thank you.
  2. Smile and say hello to at least 5 strangers and tell them what you do. Change up your approach and see which intro gets the best response. I’ve been at the copy desk at Staples and met prospects who turned into clients. Put yourself out there – then follow up!
  3. Learn how to tell at least 3 jokes, and get good at it. You’ll never know when you need one to break the ice! Make sure they’re appropriate for the crowd.  Remember, you’re representing your brand, even after hours and that second cocktail.
  4. Challenge yourself in some new way. Go to a new MeetUp or networking group and talk about your services. Join Toastmasters®. That’s where I started. Start small if you’re nervous about the big stage. Serve as a chair person of a volunteer group.  Acknowledge, accept and put yourself out there as someone everyone should know.  You are the expert in  _____(fill in the blank), right?
  5. Give yourself lots of chances. Throw a party! There are so many adjacent possibilities to trying something new. Just like marketing and PR, you don’t put one media pitch out there, you have a MIX. It’s the same way in building confidence. Revving up your energy creates new energy.
  6. Be a better receiver. Accept compliments, ask for testimonials, build a referral program.  Sometimes, we forget how good we are or don’t ask for the business.  Make a decision to reach out to happy clients. Ask for LinkedIn recommendations. Send surveys to get feedback. Use all of the good, and learn from the not so perfect. Isn’t that how we grow?
  7. Review your progress. How are you feeling on a day by day basis? What are you accomplishing in your career or in other parts of your life? Make note of your successes, sales and growing pains and take a look at the week’s end. See how small changes in your attitude, change you!

Confidence is a game changer even if you have to act as if, for just today.

PS – This is an updated version of a blog from 2014.  I made it more relevant to the Sales and PR process. I’m a bigger believer now more than ever. Confidence is a game changer!

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 Rachel@LeoneMarketing.com.