Creating a blog is not only one of best examples of your owned media, it’s also a wonderful tool to showcase your expertise, get visibility, publicity and PR.  Bottom line, blogs help you get noticed, but you have to write and post on a consistent basis.

Robin’s Rainmakers has been a platform that has helped me increase online and offline credibility, reputation, speaking opportunities and form valuable partnerships, like the one I have with Constant Contact. I’ve also revved up my personal and professional brand. Blog all you like, but pull in traffic!

Here are 5 Ways to Pull Traffic to Your Blog

  • Use images. Take your own photos or create graphics on Canva.com. You can also use one of the hundreds of free online photo resources. Google free images and read sites like Entrepreneur.com for suggestions.  I like Gratisography.com because it’s fun. Pixabay.com is also a resource we use. See what’s here too at com/FreeBlogPhotos.
  • einstien-robinsamoraMake your images fun. Have you used Photofunia.com? You can put yourself and others in the picture. Here’s an example of a fun graphic I use in presentations. It gives me credibility and aligns me with experts.  Right?
  • Don’t forget Infographics. HubSpot has an amazing example of templates to create infographics.  Take your tips and create a visual that will be shared over and over again.  What’s to gain? Higher visibility and brand recognition.  It’s all about sharing and pinning. The Art of Engagement. Can you use any of these ideas from HubSpot? tinyurl.com/HubSpotTemplates
  • Make the most of your headlines with a title generator. Here’s a cool tool you can use to get ideas for headlines and articles. Some may be way out there – but use what looks good and think of this as an inspiration tank.  Co-Schedule also has a free headline analyzer, but start with this one first to get the swing of it. tinyurl.com/CoolTitleGenerator
  • Take advantage of YouTube. You know YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.  And, you probably know that you can create a welcome video and mention your blog, as well as link to blog posts from video descriptions.  Did you also know that you have 5000 characters to work with in the video description area? This isn’t the place to stuff keywords, but rather be strategic in your marketing and SEO efforts.

Of course there are other ways to pull traffic to your blog.  Guest blogging, podcasting, speaking gigs, book signings, Amazon Author Central, Good Reads, by-lined articles, networking, interviews and more.

“If you just keep moving forward, you’ll amaze yourself” – Anonymous

I gave a talk yesterday at a Leadership CEO Forum and was excited to present PR and Social Media ideas to a room of executive women, who ran successful businesses – and invested in their growth.  (I love that).

After the meeting and comments from the group, I was thinking of ways that entrepreneurs and experts could get noticed, without all kinds of fuss, muss and time restraints.

  • Walk into a room with power. What I’m talking about here is exuding confidence.  Knowing you’re the expert when you walk in to a room full of strangers. You’re well dressed, ready for action and prepared to share your knowledge.
  • Spend time getting to know your group. Before any speaking gig or meeting, it’s always good to know the players. Ask for a list beforehand if it’s available and do some research on your own. That way, you have some background information and can ask intelligent questions and give thoughtful responses.
  • Give without expectation. I often speak without getting paid because it opens the door to new circles and there’s so much possibility for potential business.  Some might say, “Nah, you’re wasting your time.”  If you’re doing something that you believe is getting you towards your goal, then go for it.
  • Make time for Q + A privately, in person if possible. After a presentation, don’t schedule yourself so tightly that you don’t have room to breathe and have a chance to talk with attendees.  I’m all for clustering a day of activities in the area I’m visiting, but there are hidden opportunities in NOT rushing. It took me a while to figure that out.
  • See an opportunity? Act on it.  I was on a tour yesterday of NewTV for an upcoming TV series and saw beautiful artwork on the wall.  I commented on it and asked if they showcased artist’s work on a monthly basis.  The answer was yes and it was a perfect opportunity for my client, Lidia Kenig-Scher to feature her paintings.  Had I not popped my head in the Director of Marketing’s office and said hi, that never might have happened.

This list could go on with other PR and marketing opportunities to increase your brand awareness and visibility – with referral programs, highlighting influencers, news jacking, podcasting and more.

But we’re looking at easy tactics here, that don’t require hours of thought. They’re free publicity tactics that are worth their weight in gold.

Speaking is a great way to hear first-hand what entrepreneurs and business owners are thinking.  Last month, this question popped up a few times. “How can I do all the marketing and still do my work?  I feel overwhelmed!”

Well, that’s pretty easy to answer.

You can’t do all your work and sell, then take care of all the PR and marketing.  It’s just not possible.  Unless, you have at least an outsourced person or two to help with the workload, an intern or another member of your team who’s qualified to carry out your vision (and instructions).

But, you can do what’s important to grow your business and brand. You just have to select the promotional tactics and tasks that matter, and automation that fits.

So, how does a busy entrepreneur avoid marketing overwhelm?  

  • Stay focused and don’t try to do it all. I’m a recovering perfectionist and drove myself crazy trying to be everything and everywhere all at once. To start, identify your ideal client and where they hang out. Then be clear on your messaging and call to action, and build a strong consistent outreach program.
  • Find the best 2 – 3 platforms that will increase your visibility and learn how to use them to get your biggest bang for the buck. If your customers aren’t on Instagram, don’t waste your time. If the majority of your customers aren’t women, don’t bother with Pinterest.  If you’re in the B 2 B space, use LinkedIn. Write on Pulse, comment, engage, join groups.  If your audience is on Facebook, go for it and mix it up with video. Building credibility? Consider Twitter.  Build a foundation then add layers (platforms that make sense).
  • Remember the golden rule of promotion (yes rules are meant to be broken). Engage 80% of the time with your audience, prospects, customers and influencers.  Promote your products, services, events and special offers 20% of the time. This takes time and requires content marketing, but it builds a base of raving fans.
  • Find influencers in your industry and see what they’re doing. Yes, you can lurk anonymously on LinkedIn, but really, there’s no need.  See what others are up to, but don’t go into a tail spin if they’re one place and you’re another.  Try a platform to see if there’s a fit – and also, consider your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). What makes you different from your competitor. Are they really competitors anyway?  Isn’t there enough business for us all?
  • Test, try, then say goodbye. You aren’t being judged. Let it go if you made feel like you made a mistake or something didn’t work. Read up on what you think the best strategy is for your business, phone a friend or expert and test it out.  No babies are dying here.  Think of it like adding accessories or trying a new look. Lucky you, most promotional copy and ideas can be reworked or recycled.
  • Have your customers sell for you. What’s more powerful than a solid word of mouth referral? “Hello – yes, I’d love to – this is how we work – and here’s what we charge.  Awesome, when do you want to begin?  Your credit card?  Of course – give me a minute to grab a pen.” You can also ask for referrals on your email signature, at network meetings and when you talk with an event organizer. Bottom line, you have to ask. It’s as easy as “ketchup please?”  Know anyone else that might like my ABC?
  • Automate baby, automate. I’m an expert in training. I say it all the time.  My colleagues are located all around the country, but one thing is, we share tools, tricks and tips and we try them out.  I love Buffer.com, Feedly.com, Canva.com and a host of other websites that make my social media and design life easier. Work for 30 minutes, post for 1 week. I’m into easy and colorful sharing of PR, marketing and business insights.

Overwhelm is a choice and it’s not for me.  I’d prefer to be more spot-on, not compare myself to others and listen to my gut to tell me what’s write. (Oh, I meant right).  Either way, business is what you make it.

Explore your options and be your best self.  You can’t go wrong.

Summer reading isn’t just for kids, though every parent and interested adult might ask their favorite little one(s), “what’s on your reading list this summer?”

So my question to you is the same.  “What’s on your reading list this summer?” Here are some recommendations from Richard Feloni and Shana Lebowitz with Business Insider, and members of the Young Entrepreneur Council – for the best business books to read this summer.

Top 23 Best Business Books to Read This Summer

I’d love to start a book club and read of copy of every business book listed here.  Granted, I’ve read a few already, but certainly not all 23! 10 top picks on their list include:

  • Sprint by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz. What’s the process to launch amazing new product at Google? Take a deep dive at Google’s venture capital firm and see what their 5-day “sprint” method is all about.
  • Shoe Dog by Phil Night. When Phil Knight graduated college, he sold running shoes out of his parents’ garage. He also happens to be retiring as chairman of Nike this summer. Here’s his story from laces to going places.
  • Originals by Adam Grant. Grant is the highest rated professor at Wharton and the youngest to date, to reach full professor. In this book, he looks at daring thinkers over the last century and inside their minds. What makes them “original?”
  • O Great One! by David Novak and Christina Bourg. Novak is the retired chairman of Yum Brands and left the company with more than a pension; 41,000 restaurants across 125 countries. The #1 leadership lesson he teaches?  Show employees appreciation for great work.
  • How to Have a Good Day by Caroline Webb, CEO of Sevenshift. Webb shares practical best practices and tried and true career advice from her 16 years as a consultant – including how to deal with annoying coworkers (and so much more).
  • Grit by Angela Duckworth. Duckworth, a psychology professor at U Penn and winner of the McArthur Genius award, believes that true grit – a combination of passion and perseverance – will lead to success. She thinks in fact that it’s often more important that talent or intelligence.
  • An Everyone Culture by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. Two Harvard professors wrote this book citing that employees work two jobs; the one they signed up when they joined and one they battle in office politics. Select companies avoid this by creating Deliberately Developmental Organizations. Who are they? Read the case studies and find out.
  • Quench Your Own Thirst by Jim Koch.  The story of how a consultant, thought crazy, left his $250,000 a year job and started Koch’s Beer Company, competing with the likes of Budweiser and Heineken. You may know the brand, Sam Adams?
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport. Georgetown professor Cal Newport argues that some of the greatest output is the result of deep work. This book tells you how you can build deep sessions into your day to accomplish top quality work in a few hours or less. Sign me up.
  • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. Find out how acting on ego can prevent learning opportunities and similarly, how it can prevent successful people from adapting to change. Holiday uses lessons from history and philosophy to show how to master the ego. Read to see how this applies to New England Patriots Head Coach, Bill Belichick and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Hmmm.

Interested in other top business book touted by the Young Entrepreneur Council?  Check them out here.

And, what’s on Bill Gates’ reading list? See what he’s recommending for the Summer of ’16.

You got it, right here.

Live a lot. Learn a lot.

Without sales we wouldn’t be in business. And who brings us business? Customers of course! It might be easier for big businesses to spend more freely in buying customer happiness, but you don’t have to be a Fortune 100 brand to show you care. Small businesses can love even more tenderly!

In 13 Ways to Show Customers You Love Them Frias Kittaneh from Entrepreneur.com shares the love with his collection of customer loyalty secrets. A few suggestions?  Break the Rules. Extend Promo Code deadlines. Celebrate an odd holiday with your clients. Or, simply hang out with them at new restaurant in town. (I love that one).  In the mood for love?  Read more ideas here.

Check out this article too from Helpscout.net 25 Ways to Thank Your Customers. You’ll find some fun and quirky ways to thank your customers and create stronger connections with prospects too. We all can be reminded on how to show appreciation, no matter what stage in business or life we’re in. Give a Good Read with your own book if you’re an author or select a book your client might like.  Don’t forget to include a personalized bookmark too! You can also throw a party or hold an in-store event after hours. You’ll have plenty to choose from!

Me? I love love anytime of the year, not just on Valentine’s Day.

If you’re looking for 100 Ways to Say I Love You without having to say “I Love You”, check out these phrases for your friends, family or favorite fans.

Remember them for your own Personal PR.

“If music be the food of love, play on.”

Looking to up your game? Schedule a complimentary Discovery Call with me to see how you can score more PR and Small Business Marketing Success. You can also ask me in person. I’m speaking at Constant Contact Headquarters on March 1 with other social media, email marketing and SEO experts, on How to Develop and Manage Your Online Brand. It’s FREE. Join Heather Jackson, Christina Inge, Jeannette O’Neil and me from 10am – 2pm.  Space is limited – Register now!

Goal setting is one of the most important steps to achieving your dreams and a must have when creating a PR Roadmap. Writing down what you want is the first step in making your goals come true and giving yourself permission to revise them as you go along.  There’s also a science behind it. Read what experts have to say in this article, The Science Behind Setting Goals and Achieving Them from Entrepreneur.com.

The author, Jane Porter from Help Scout shared some valuable insights from psychologists and experts and broke setting goals into 5 steps.

Let’s look at them one by one.

  1. Have a growth mindset. Do you have a go for it attitude, not worried so much about how smart you are or what other’s will think?  How about what a mistake will mean?  Psychologist and Stanford professor Carol Dweck believes that a “growth mindset” can be developed over time and that your abilities aren’t fixed.  She shares more information here in this article from Harvard Business Review.
  2. Set meaningful goals. Challenging yourself to grow on a daily basis to what’s meaningful for you and having your goals be measurable are key points in John Norcross’ book, Changeology. In his words, “small steps together equal a giant leap.”
  3. Build accountability into your life.  There’s accountability for everything you do. If you don’t go food shopping, you can’t cook. If you don’t pick up shirts at the dry cleaner, you may go shirtless. (Kidding, but you get the point). Typically, there’s a penalty you have to pay. How much pain are you willing to tolerate?
  4. Don’t fill yourself with false hope. As important as ambition is, it can also lead to unrealistic expectations.  If you don’t get something done, you can feel like a failure. And, no one wants to feel that way. Janet Polivy, psychologist at the University of Toronto, calls unrealistic goal setting, false hope syndrome.
  5. Never underestimate the power of positivity. Leadership coach Peter Bregman suggests thinking in terms of focus, not the end goal. If you were a sales person that would mean concentrating on outreach rather than the exact number of sales you closed in a week.  “A goal points to a future you intend to reach; an area of focus settles you into the present.”

No matter how you look at goal setting, it can be daunting if you give it power to rule you. Reframe your attitude, take small steps that build upon each other and focus on what’s in the present, not far down the road.

That way you’ll feel like you’re making progress which will propel you even further.

PS: Changing your viewpoint and attitude can make a big difference in your end goal and how you see yourself and your business.  Schedule a PR discovery session with me to talk about what you’d like to accomplish this year.  My calendar is here or feel free to email me at Robin@RobinSamora.com.  Entrepreneur hours. So anything goes.

Ah, the year in review! I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the Top 10 of a few categories in 2015.

The top 10 business lessons compiled by Fastcompany, top 10 leadership stories by Entrepreneur.com and for visual learners in the public relations and marketing world – a look at the top 10 infographics by Marketingprofs.

In this article from Fastcompany staff, top business lessons from 2015 are shared from a variety of leaders and entrepreneurs. What were they? Calling yourself a freelancer might not be such a good idea, world travel can teach you how to expand your comfort zone and stepping back from the CEO position may actually prove to be the best leadership move.  Other lessons? Alone time works, crisis can help your company and more.

Could you have improved your leadership this year? Entrepreneur.com’s Laura Entis shares top 10 leadership stories worthy of mention and each has a valuable lesson. What’s important to note is that successful entrepreneurship starts with successful leadership and we can all learn to be better communicators and more effective leaders.  Worth reading — 50 Rules to Be a Better Leader, 7 Toxic People to Avoid When Starting a Business, 10 Examples of Companies with Fantastic Cultures. All here.

And where would we be without visual stimulation? Marketing Prof’s Editor, Veronica Maria Jarski gives us insights of her company’s top 10 infographics of 2015. Take a look at 12 Secrets of Human Behavior to Use in Your Marketing, The Only 10 Slides You Need in a Pitch and Best Days and Times to Post Content  — and how could we forget the Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Social Media.  These are great infographics to post on the wall (if you like doing that sort of thing).

A year in review by observers, seasoned marketers and entrepreneurs.

All good for your business. All good to keep in mind for the New Year!

  1. Do you know your audience? It’s important to know who you’re pitching and what they want. Don’t sell ice to an Eskimo living in Hawaii unless they own an ice making business! What’s your big vision and does it fit with who’s buying?  Think it through on paper and make sure it works!
  2. Are you passionate about your idea? Passion makes a big difference in presenting a concept and often, enthusiasm is lost if there’s a publicist or hired gun doing the talking. If you’re the presenter, make sure you have positive energy and communicate with a high vibration. It shows not only in the voice, but also in the body. Twinkling eyes are a bonus!
  3. How professional are you? Professionalism is critical not just in writing, but in delivering. For Good Morning America, Tory needs to know without a doubt that the company presenting is totally operational and can deliver great customer service – even if the company is tiny! Talk the talk and believe it yourself!
  4. Are you prepared? Many entrepreneurs want ‘it’ to happen, but aren’t ready and launch discussions prematurely. If you’re overly excited and not ready with all the facts and figures, there’s a chance you may lose an opportunity and be passed over by someone who’s got their ducks in a row. When you speak up – be ready!
  5. Will you leave a positive or negative impression? Often negative impressions are longer lasting than positive ones. Make it a point to practice your pitch not only in front of a mirror, but test it with people who’ll give you honest feedback. If the feedback is similar from all parties – it doesn’t mean you’re bad, it just means that you need to tweak your pitch!
  6. Are you crystal clear? When it’s your moment to shine, be crystal clear about who you are and what you’re offering. A confused mind never buys and certainly won’t put you on Good Morning America. Again, clarity comes from practice.  At our last SBANE meeting (Smaller Business Association of New England), we talked about this article from Forbes on public speaking lessons from the world’s greatest Ted Talks. It’s worth reading.
  7. How about your confidence? Competence and confidence go hand in hand. Sometimes, we get nervous when there’s a big opportunity and ask for what we want. Frankly, it’s silly because we KNOW OUR STUFF. You might get lucky and who you pitch may be gentle and work it out of you, but that’s not always the case. Go for it. Be confident or you may lose the opportunity if you’re weak in your presentation.
  8. Are you concise and to the point? Tory told the audience she has three minutes on-air to sell five products. So, a thirty minute lunch for her with a prospective entrepreneur is out of the question. She suggests networking and practicing your elevator pitch for brevity – so others can repeat it in a sentence.

You might not know it, but you pitch on a daily basis. Keep it simple. Practice passionately. And, deliver from your heart.

Twinkling is a bonus, especially this time of year.

Is your PR plan for 2016 all wings and bones or a comprehensive program built on certain key elements and well prepared strategies?

In Developing a PR Plan, Rachel Meranus of Entrepreneur.com explains the importance of assessing and planning a Public Relations plan – reaching out six months, but realistically looking at three with room for plenty of tweaking. She also recommends examining the tools and tactics you’ll be using — including editorial calendars, speaking opportunities, bylined articles, blogs and social media.  Are you following these same guidelines?   Compare yourself here.

John Jantsch, who writes a terrific blog at Duct Tape Marketing shares a 5 Step Small Business PR Plan for Today.  Why is this valuable?  Because it’s simple and makes sense. Listen. Network. Pitch Curves. Release and Amplify. Follow these guidelines for your 2016 public relations plans and tie it into targeted marketing for great success.  I’m all into roadmaps.

How about When Your PR Goes Really Right (Or Dead Wrong)? Contributor Cheryl Conner writes about innovative PR ideas – and in this Forbes.com article talks about creating Irish Stew Tacos and attracting traffic to a local animal shelter, with a not so friendly dog. What story can you position to get attention and use the media to promote your cause?

Finally, let’s look at Become a Press Magnet by Following this 5-Step Blueprint by Jonathan Long.  Again, solid advice to maximizie your media exposure. One of his points?  Be sure to answer HARO or other media requests often. This, and being active on social media, puts you in front of journalists.

With years of hard work to create a strong brand, marketing and visibility, why would you ever create a PR plan on wings and bones?

Who doesn’t love free PR? If you’ve been running a business for a while, you know the importance of getting your name out there. If you don’t need any more online or offline PR, then do tell – and share your secrets here!

As an expert, or hope to be influencer, speaking in front of a targeted audience is an opportunity to talk about your business, but also show your smarts, personality and skill.
That’s all well and good, but how do you get invited to speak in front of your perfect target audience?

First, you’ll need to do some homework and create a list of leaders, groups and associations who serve your target clients. The decision to speak locally or travel depends on your goals, budget and schedule.  And, what circuit you’re on.

But, before you begin the process, you’ll need to make sure you’re ready to present yourself at your very best.

I highly recommend this article by Sarah Lloyd-Hughes of Ginger Public Speaking. She mentions getting clear on why you’re speaking, creating a video and speaker sheet outlining several of your signature talks.  You might also want to have a ‘speaking page’ on your website so prospects can know more about you, before they call.

Speaking also provides a certain ‘celebrity status’ and a chance to practice your pitch. Lynan Saperstein penned this article Entrepreneur Speaking Opportunities 101: Why You Need to Be Speaking and How to Get Started for TheBigFactor.com. She talks about the importance of speaking to increase your expert status and includes valuable tips on pricing. Even if you don’t think so, there are benefits to speaking for free, especially if you’re persuasive, have a large audience and a powerful call to action!

If you’ve been, there done that with free speaking, and want to get paid, check out this resource from Enterpreneur.com. It gives you a quick overview on where to find paid speaking gigs by targeting industry associations, booking consulting at companies (according to Business Week, last year consulting topped at $39.3 billion dollars) and using the latest technology to sign prospects up for more information – by text or apps in synch with your email provider.

Lastly, I wouldn’t be a good sharer of information unless I gave you this website, which is one of the most valuable I’ve ever found on speaking.  It’s called www.SpeakerNetNews.com.  It’s a keeper with tips on topics key to the speaking business. Use it as a reference for your questions and how to’s.

Speaking is one of the fastest ways to build a mailing list and database of raving fans. Promote yourself as an expert, increase your credibility and like, know and trust factor. Set the stage for client attraction, just by being you.  It takes time and leg work, but the results are amazing.

Travel the world and get paid for it.  Someone has to do it.

Like this article?  Check out other related articles from my blog, 3 Keys to a Better Keynote, Rather Die than Speak in Public? and 5 Reasons to Hire a Stylist and Upgrade Your Look.