Saturday, December 26, 2009

How Not to be Calendar Driven and Be Fine With It

What? A marketing consultant is telling me NOT to be calendar driven? Doesn't that go against every principle taught in Marketing 101?

You might think that sounds odd since we are fast approaching 2010. 

So it's 2010 - big deal?!! It's just a date!

That's right - throw away your calendar! 

What??? Throw away your calendar? I just listened to a fantastic audiocast by Dr. Wayne Dyer, and his words couldn't ring more true (all puns intended). If you aren't familiar with Dr. Dyer, he's an amazing self-development/motivational speaker. His words strike home for me since I'm a budding yogini with an interest in Eastern traditions and philosophies. 

Don't pay attention to dates.  Huh?!! His words echo in my fried-out copywriter's brain.  I chuckle inwardly at those words because I just churned out a huge copywriting project that HAD to be finished before Christmas. As a copywriter and consultant, my world revolves around deadlines and yes, it can be really stressful.

In Dr. Dyer's audiocast, he mentioned that Tuesday should feel the same as Sunday. Planning has and is my life, but I actually listened to the true meaning behind Dr. Dyer's word. I was a professional non-profit fundraiser and event planner for years, and my life revolved around a calendar.  It's difficult for me NOT to tick off the dates . 

Long range planning and goals are good but don't become stuck on dates either. Sometimes we need to just be - be in the present moment to experience what is really going on with our lives. We sometimes miss out on the joys and wonders that life brings to us. We worry too much about what's going to happen next week or next month.

As a marketing consultant, that may not make sense (especially since I help people write marketing plans and I'm all about long range goals and objectives). However, I also need to practice what I preach and offer a different perspective - especially since I try to help holistic practitioners who don't necessarily want that one tried and true marketing plan. Long range may not work for them. 

For me to pass these words along to you - don't pay attention to your calendar - well, that's a bit out there even for me. However, it makes perfect sense. If you obsess about every date and think YOU MUST stick to a timeline 24,7, you may be missing out on what's happening at this very second and it could be a VERY important second, or seconds! 

As we roll into the New Year, don't make resolutions. Resolutions usually fall to the wayside. Reflect. Make a vision board - dream big but don't obsess about it either. Pick up a new book you've always wanted to read. Take a class or seminar you've always wanted to take, but have put off because you were waiting for the right day or "date." See - it goes back to that pesky calendar again! 

Don't rule your life by a calendar. You may be surprised at where life takes you and who you meet along the way - especially when it comes to building your business and the people/clients who transpire along your journey.

Wishing everyone a peaceful and not-so-deadline driven life in...well, I won't mention a date...your present moment.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Plan Ahead: How to Promote Your Company Before The New Year Hits

Wising you a Happy Holiday Season and Peaceful New Year!

I've been writing a lot of business-focused articles lately and recently wrote about the importance of public relations (PR) and how it can make or break a company. I started to think about long-range planning, and how most companies wait until it's too late to make a promotional/marketing plan.

Here are some easy promotional tips that will boost your publicity BEFORE you ring in the New Year. As health/wellness practitioners, the New Year is infamous for resolutions, especially when it comes to health. This is a great time to plant the seed in clients' brains right NOW.

  • Offer discounted prices for services and products for a limited time beginning January 1
  • Prepare now! Plan a free demo class/seminar in January that highlights your products and services. Include other holistic/wellness practitioners that complement your business. People are motivated to make health changes when the New Year hits, so don't wait too long.
  • If you send out a holiday newsletter or cards, include a promotional deal to "thank" your clients for their continued support and business (i.e. "2 for 1" massages).
Re-evaluate your marketing and publicity goals and make necessary changes this month. Don't wait until January! December is a busy month as you prepare for the holidays, but take time to focus on your business. Look at what you've done this year with your marketing and publicity, and think about how you can improve next year. If something isn't working, then take a different approach.

Another great way to gauge your publicity/marketing is to survey existing clients - even if it's a short 5 question survey. Find out what your customers/clients really want in 2010. Maybe you need to move in a completely different direction. Don't allow the economy to scare you off from looking at all angles of your business. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How was I successful this year?
  • What marketing and publicity goals worked well this year? What didn't work well?
  • What changes can I make to improve my overall marketing and publicity? (Have you been avoiding setting up a website? 2010 is the year to create that site!)
Wishing everyone a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Friday, November 20, 2009

How to Protect Your Online Reputation & Identity

I recently set up Google Alerts to notify me when my articles are published and also to verify that no one has stolen my articles/content (which has happened in the past). As a business owner with a web presence, it's important to manage your online reputation. Identity theft runs rampant across the globe, and it's easy to steal information online.

Here are a few tips on how you can manage and protect your online reputation:
  • Google yourself and see if anyone has a similar company or business name (or the same name as you!) The best way to protect yourself is to set up a Google profile with a photo or company logo (which associates your face with your business/company name)
  • When creating your website, use your business name or a variation of it - this allows you to buy the domain name so no one else can use it
  • Don't give out too much personal information on social media sites. There have been Facebook and Twitter hackers running rampant these days, so be careful about the type of information you post on these sites. However, for professional social media sites it's important to add a photo (which builds a sense of trust and credibility amongst fellow site members)
  • Don't respond to spam and set up a spam folder in your email account so spam is automatically filtered. Phishing emails are commonly used to steal people's information (bank account information, etc.) so be careful when reading and responding to "questionable" emails. Obviously, never send money to someone you don't know.
  • If you conduct sales via PayPal or other payment transaction sites, make sure your business transactions are secure and clear out the cookies on your computer (this both protects you and your clients/customers)
  • Set up Google alerts so you can track your information online. If you write articles, make sure you have a copyright disclaimer (if you don't want others to steal your content or ask that your byline be posted when others use your content). For more information about digital copyright laws, check out the Digital Media Copyright Act (DMCA)
  • Use appropriate Net-iquette when posting information and updates on social media sites. It's easy for clients and customers to track down information about you. Your words could come back to haunt you!
Reputation management can save you from a lot of hassles down the road. It's important to stay ahead of your competition. It's also VERY important to respond immediately to any negative comments posted on blogs and forums about your or your business. Word of mouth travels fast online so make sure you conduct yourself professionally online (and offline) at all times.
The last thing you want to deal with is damage control!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

How to Put the Entrepreneurial Spirit Back into Your Business

This week I took on a new assignment that focused on writing entreprenurial-based articles. I write for different industries besides holistic and health. It's interesting how entrepreneurs are always stereotyped as aggressive tycoons. I know many of you may cringe at the word "entrepreneur," but if you own a business you still need to infuse a sense of entreprenurial spirit into your business. You can eliminate the aggressive tactics, but there are many positive qualities associated with entrepreneurs:

  • Creative and innovative - Entrepreneurs think "outside the box" and explore all untapped avenues. They invent and create innovative products and services and stay a few steps ahead of their competition. They aren't passive and just wait for things to happen to them. They are proactive and stay ahead of the trends and latest information in their industry. They are true experts in their field.

  • Passionate - Successful entrepreneurs LOVE what they do. Have you ever seen a sad entrepreneur who hung his/her head low? They love sharing their passion with others, and their enthusiasm and passion for their work is infectious. They are confident and their passion for what they do drives them towards future success.

  • Aren't afraid of change and they don't take constructive criticism personally - They are open to learning new ideas and they aren't afraid to change. They look for ways to improve their business to make it better. They are open to listening to other people's opinions and viewpoints about their business. They don't take constructive criticism personally and aren't afraid to delve beyond the surface: what's working and what's not working?

  • Problem solvers - Successful entrepreneurs are problem solvers. They know how to communicate effectively with their staff and clients/customers. They don't wait for issues/problems to solve themselves. They take a conscientious role and solve problems as they arise. They also don't "pass the buck" and expect other's to take the blame if they make a mistake. They own up to their imperfections and mistakes, and see each problem as an opportunity to improve.

If you feel like the "oomph" has gone out of your business and you've lost your entreprenurial spirit, maybe it's time to re-evaluate your business and your attitude towards your work. You are in a very positive field - you work with people who need your help. You make dramatic impacts on people's lives. Maybe you don't see yourself as an entrepreneur because you are in the business of "helping" people and aren't in the corporate realm. You don't have to work in the corporate world to infuse a bit of entrepreneurial drive and spirit back into your business.

Think about the qualities that make up an entrepreneur - maybe you already are moving in that direction and just don't know it!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Network with a Purpose - You Don't Have to Be Everything to Everyone

A few of my clients cringe at the word "networking." They shy away from talking about themselves in public venues, and networking is their least favorite aspect of marketing.

Social media and online marketing is important, but one-on-one networking still needs to happen. However, you don't have to be everything to everyone. Translation: You don't have to attend every chamber or networking group function. The key to networking is to "network with a purpose." Your time is valuable, and you need to weigh your return on investment.

As a former non-profit fundraiser who never had enough time in the day (or evening), I used this strategy to hit community events/fairs that targeted potential donors/sponsors. I couldn't clone myself and be at two places at once, so I had to pick and choose what events would make the biggest impact.

Networking with a purposes aligns you with potential clients who will help grow your business (or introduce you to people who could benefit from your services and products).

Before you sign up for a networking event or trade show, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What event will give me the biggest bang for my buck?
  • How many people are attending?
  • Where is the event held? Is it local or out of my area? Is it worth it to travel 100 plus miles if only 10 people are attending the event?
  • What kind of people (demographics) are attending the event?
  • Will these people be interested in my services and products?
  • How much is the participation fee? (Free events are always a PLUS!)
  • Do I really want to attend/participate? If your "gut" instinct tells you "no, this event just isn't for me," listen to your instinct!
  • Am I prepared to market myself effectively at this particular event? (business cards, marketing materials, give-aways, etc.)
  • If I attend this event, will the event take away precious time from clients and other income-producing work/activities?
Bottom line - What's your biggest return on investment? An antiquated style of sales/marketing focused on attending every possible networking event you could attend. This is not good business.

You don't have to be everything to everyone, and you don't have to be at every networking event either!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Don't Let Fear Stop You From Success - Why Holistic/Wellness Businesses Don't Move Forward

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." This is one of my favorite quotes from "A Course in Miracles." I thank my yoga teacher, Rene, for introducing me to this lovely passage and it's SO true. You can apply it to any aspect of your life - even your professional life.

The biggest theme that I've seen with my holistic and wellness clients is fear - they fear taking that next step with their marketing. They don't see themselves as "business entrepreneurs" - marketing and marketing plans are scary concepts for them.

I'm a small business owner so I understand that fear can drag us away from our business and marketing. The fear of the unknown can feel like a huge burden and just taking baby steps may even be too overwhelming. In these tough economic times, some businesses think they just don't have the resources/money/time to work on a marketing plan. However, business just doesn't appear magically out of thin air. Proactive planning and a positive mindset makes all the difference in the world.

Sometimes we have to face that "darkness" so we can discover the "light" - as a holistic or wellness practitioner that's probably what you tell your clients/patients on a daily basis. You need to start telling yourself the very same thing - it's time to face your fears before you can get past them and move forward in a positive direction.

Marketing your business is NOT as overwhelming as you may think. You probably think you have to do everything RIGHT now or someone has advised you to jump on the bandwagon (which propels you into NOT wanting to do anything with your marketing). So your business lies there stagnant and you hope that people will call you. Yes, word-of-mouth is a great way to market but you can't rely solely on others to spread the word for you.

Before you can even think about taking proactive steps to market your business, you need to understand WHY you are fearful:

  • Do you have a "depletion" attitude towards your business? Do you give into the "hype" that the tenuous economy is only hurting your business, so why should you market it right now? If that's the case, shift your attitude towards an attitude of "abundance" - use visualization techniques (or meditation) about the types of clients/patients you want in your business and think POSITIVE! If you haven't watched The Secret, I highly recommend watching the DVD or reading the book. The Law of Attraction works! Practice what you preach - you help a lot of people, so it's time to help YOURSELF and your business.
  • Are you afraid that business just doesn't come naturally to you? Do you shy away from self-promotion and talking about yourself and your business? When promoted authors many moons ago, I told they were their best advertiser (since they wrote the book). You are the "author" of your business - you created it and you run it. You know the in's and out's of your business and services/products better than anyone else. Yes, a marketing consultant can lead you in the right direction but you need to take ownership and responsibility and put YOUR goals into place.
  • What is/are your fear(s)? Address them directly. Write them down and then let those fears go. Cross them out and replace them with positive language/affirmations (in the present tense). i.e. instead of "I am lousy with accounting and have no clue how to run a business." replace that sentence with: "I run a successful massage therapy business and I help my clients in the following ways:..."
You provide unique, special services to your clients and patients, and you have gifts to share with them. Don't let fear stop you from marketing your business in positive ways, and moving forward with your success.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Heartfelt Branding - The Power Behind Your Marketing Message

It's important to promote a positive identity associated with your branding. You offer unique services and products that no one else offers. If you feel your marketing/branding message is stale and doesn't resonate with the vision behind your business, it's time to re-evaluate the "energy" and purpose behind your business.

Ask yourself the following questions and jot down your answers.

  • WHAT (services, products, etc.) exactly do you offer your clients/customers and patients?
  • HOW do you help your clients?
  • WHAT "feeling" or energy do you want associated with your business?
  • Do you have a vision or mission statement associated with your business?
  • If not, think about your long range vision behind your business. WHY did you create your business?
  • How do you want people to feel, think, act/react when they use your products or services?
  • Listen to your gut instinct. Is there a component of your business that just feels "off"? How could you change/improve so that energy feels good again?
Your business marketing message needs to resonate with your heart and soul. There was a reason why you created your business - maybe it was to increase your income, but I have a feeling the reason was deeper than just monetary security. Businesses who specialize in helping people feel better about themselves aren't doing it for just the glory of the business - they truly care. Your marketing message needs to resonate that as well - that you truly care.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Put Some Zen into Your Tweets!

Twitter is one of the hottest micro-blogging platforms on the internet right now. I recently helped one of my holistic-based clients with the ins and outs of Twitter. She became overwhelmed with tweets and how to use Twitter. After working with her, I realize that Twitter can be confusing for the non-tweeting novice.

Twitter isn't THAT difficult to navigate. Twitter allows you to tap into markets and niches which open up HUGE possibilities for your online marketing objectives.

  • Twitter is free - go to Twitter and set up an account for free. It's very easy!
  • When you send out your first tweet, think about how you want to be perceived on Twitter. Do you want to sell relaxation CDs? Do you want more clients? Give people valuable information - don't spam!
  • You want to be seen as an "expert" on Twitter. For example, if you specialize in myofascial release, include links to your newsletter or website that ties back to an article - why people need to use myofascial release (how it can HELP them!)
  • You are in the "helping" industry so put that vibe out there - you are there for your clients and patients!! Make your presence known and make it sound genuine and REAL.
  • Target the people you follow accordingly. Search for people who are in your same field. Some good searches could be: general holistic practitioners, massage therapists, chiropractors, wellness, fitness, health/fitness, astrologers, hypnotherapists, Shamanic healers, flower essence, aromatherapy, Bowen therapists, etc.
Offer freebies and specials/discounted pricing on services and products. Make your Tweets sound enticing to your followers!

Happy Tweeting!

The Wholistic Marketing Approach to Business - Marketing with Heart and Soul

Welcome to Zenful Communications - a helpful resource for health, wellness and holistic-based businesses who seek a unique approach to marketing and communications. Are you tired of hard-sales marketing consultants who don't understand YOU and your services/products?

Businesses who specialize in health, wellness and holistic services go beyond just "treating" a patient or client. In order to help patients and clients, you need to delve into the hearts, souls and minds of your clients/patients. As a former fundraiser who worked in public health non-profits for 10 years, I understand the importance of building relationships with people who suffer from health-related issues and diseases. A personalized approach is a must when working with people who want to make lasting, healthy changes in their lives.

I help you personalize a strategic marketing plan that reviews your entire business. There may be components you have completely overlooked. Maybe your website isn't tied back to your branding, or you don't have the time to write blog articles that really make you shine.

My creative, wholistic approach taps into the essence of your business. I combine both traditional marketing/online marketing strategies with creative techniques that promote you as an individual/personalized business. Your business is unique from every other business out there. I promote YOUR services and products with that in mind - you offer valuable and much-needed products/services in this ever-changing world.

Whether you are a holistic healer, massage therapist or fitness consultant, I guide you towards a bright, heart-felt future. I'm a firm believer in the Law of Attraction - what you put out there in a proactive way is what you get back ten-fold!

Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

Content Writing & Marketing Tips ** Online Buzz Branding

** Digital & Social Media Strategies