Tuesday, December 28, 2010

8 Easy Email Marketing Tips for Successful Book Promotions

I'm diving into a big book ghostwriting project for the New Year and was reminded of my book publicity and publishing days.  As you think about writing your award-winning ebooks this year, don't forget that marketing your book is JUST as important (if not more!) as writing it.

If you go the self-published route, you are the best person to promote your book. Email campaigns are one of the easiest ways to market your book - especially if you have a viable CRM list. 

1. Define your audience and target your list accordingly - who will benefit from your book? What problems will your book solve for readers?

2. Give them a good reason to BUY your book - introduce yourself and your book in a compelling way. Make sure your email copy is concise and to the point! 

3. Good grammar is everything - double check your typos and use spell check before you blast out the email.

4. Review other New York Times bestseller book campaigns, emails and promotions for helpful hints and ideas.

5. Keep important information ABOVE  the fold or you will lose your readers (and potential sales!) When you keep information at the top half of the page, you are more likely to capture their attention and readers won't opt out.

6. Use a STRONG Call to Action at the end of your email copy - don't give your readers a reason to opt out. You want them to click for more information and BUY your book!

7. Include a book image and your photo to make your email look more friendly and engaging. 

8. Preview the email in text only and HTML before sending out - send yourself a test email to make sure the images aren't distorted and the email reads well (from a visual perspective).

Remember to take advantage of social media to promote your book - another easy way to blast out information about your book!

For more helpful book promotions' tips, please contact me directly - find out more online publicity tips to get you started in the New Year! 


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What’s the Tweet on the Street? How Twitter Spreads News Like Wild Fire


When was the last time you actually turned on your TV for late-breaking news? It’s probably been awhile. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Twitter blasts out breaking news hours before the news stations get wind of it.

Between popular celebrity tweets and winter storm updates, Twitter makes it very easy to find out what’s happening in the world – especially when it comes to groundbreaking news.

Most people seem to love Twitter or hate it, but even more people seem to be unaware of its vast publicity potential – especially if you have a newsworthy message you need to spread quickly (and you don’t have time to write and send a press release).

When a 7.8 earthquake struck China in 2008 - less than three months before the Olympic Games began - people updated on Twitter faster than the official news channels could keep up.

Some companies have already taken full advantage of Twitter’s publicity power. As I mentioned in a previous post, KFC awarded a $20,000 scholarship to high school student based on a SINGLE tweet. The chicken-chowing corporation generated newsworthy press for itself in mere seconds with their philanthropic venture.

At its longest, a tweet is 160 characters - just enough words to get your message across without rambling for days and accidentally mentioning your cat family. Less is more when it comes to Twitter, and sometimes that’s a good thing when it comes to promoting your company’s brand.

However, don’t be like the PR executive who publicly lambasted his client, FED EX, via Twitter. As a result, he lost FED EX as their client, and was fired for his insulting tweet. From a publicity standpoint, be very careful of what you tweet.  Twitter spreads news like wild fire, and you could be one tweet away from ruining your company’s reputation.

Even Heathrow Airport has jumped on the news bandwagon with their latest tweets - an effective way keep travelers updated on current storm conditions and closures. 

In 2006, the first post in Twitter history was “just setting up my twttr” by Jack Stone, one of Twitter’s co-founders. If you haven’t started using Twitter, you might want to reconsider. Maybe 2011 will be your time to shine in Twitter history.

Jack Stone may not have set the bar very high with his first Twitter post, but that doesn’t mean your first post can’t be memorable – and newsworthy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Just in the Nick of Time...Why You Need a Social Media Plan in 2011

If you thought you could get away without using social media in 2010, you'd better think again for 2011!  Social media is here to stay! It's time to start making your social media lists AND checking them twice...and three times!

If you don't have ANY clue where to start, check out Modello Media, Inc. and their "Just in the Nick of Time" package deal they are offering through the holiday season! 

I know people struggle with their marketing budgets thanks to our tenuous economy and I know what you're thinking - I JUST don't have a marketing budget!  

Sometimes you've got to spend a little money to make some money and...you don't have to spend a lot either - why I wanted to pass along this fantastic deal because I know you're crunching the digits as you wind down your year.

So here's Victoria's deal, plain and simple - no muss, no fuss! 

60 minutes of phone consulting for...$50! (that's less than original $60 fee she offered 2 years ago - wowwww!)

So where do you start? 

  • Want to do a better job of promotion using social media?
  • Need a stronger LinkedIn presence?
  • Want to integrate offline and online marketing?
  • Wish you could pull off a great direct mail package?
  • Want to effectively use a new trick or tool on the market
  • Need guidance on a new website or blog?

And I know your social media list goes on and on...
The topic is up to you, and anything related to online marketing is fair game.

Choose 2 convenient hours on the 21st, 22nd, 27th or 28th of December - email  Victoria@ModelloMedia.com

Oh, and by the way...if you schedule a minimum of two hours, you receive a free copy of Victoria's newest ebook, LinkedIn For The Clueless! The only requirement to receive this bonus is that one of the hours must be scheduled during the above dates mentioned. 

Soooo...STOP blaming your web designers, business managers and everyone else under the sun for your failed social media plan - or lack thereof! 

Don't wait until 2011 is half-over to create a social media plan! For more information about Victoria's "Just in the Nick of Time" holiday deal - contact Modello Media, Inc. today.

Merry Holidays & wishing you MUCH social media succes in the New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Are You LinkedIn for the New Year?

My motto for the New Year is "out with the old and in with the NEW!" I've been working on my business plan and marketing goals for 2011. Guess what's at the top of my social media marketing list? That's right - LinkedIn.

Is LinkedIn at the top of YOUR list for 2011? I am guessing that some of you used these excuses when it came to WHY you didn't use LinkedIn this year: 

  • "Yeah well, I signed up for LinkedIn but I have no idea how to use it."
  • "Why do people keep asking me to join LinkedIn? I don't know them!"
  • "I don't have time to chat with other business people!" 

Excuses, excuses! It's time to throw out your old thinking when it comes to LinkedIn, and dial into a new approach to LinkedIn this year.

Modello Media, Inc. CEO Victoria Ipri gives us all the HELP we need with LinkedIn this year. She recently launched her savvy, easy-to-read  LinkedIn for the Clueless book just in time for 2011. Her book also makes a great last-minute holiday gift for those on your list who need an extra social media push!

"LinkedIn For the Clueless demystifies LinkedIn, breaking down and making sense of the reasons why you should care, and exactly which features to concentrate on to get the best results for your efforts," Victoria shares. 

Victoria was kind enough to share a sneak preview from her book. I recently picked up LinkedIn for the Clueless and loved it.  It's perfect for both newbies and seasoned social media pros. Her book offers great insight and tips on how to successfully navigate the LinkedIn waters! 

"Marketing is storytelling, and nowhere can you enjoy the opportunity to tell your story more effectively than with social media marketing. Companies who have built great communities online -- Starbucks on Facebook, Zappos on Twitter, Graco on Flickr, The Personal Branding Network on LinkedIn, and Dell everywhere -- have figured out:

Who they are (in terms of public perception)

How to capture market attention

Why consumers should invest in the company story

What’s your company story? What do you believe in? With what traits do you want your audience to associate you? No doubt, you’ve got a story to tell. Spend some time thinking deeply about it. Your story anchors your entire marketing effort."


Are you LinkedIn for the New Year? Click here  to find out more information about LinkedIn For the Clueless. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Top 6 Must-Have Business Mobile Apps for the New Year


Whether you use a Blackberry, iPhone, or Droid, you have probably downloaded at least one mobile app this year (if not more!) 2010 brought some very memorable apps to mobile devices – you just couldn’t escape them this year.  I bet you turned on Pandora radio while crunching numbers late at the office, or took advantage of Skype mobile while chatting with your Tokyo clients.

Even with all the latest and greatest apps this year, you probably skipped over some helpful apps that could have made your life easier.  Here are some “must-have” apps you can’t live without in 2011.

#1 Evernote – an app compatible with all devices that makes everything on your phone easy to remember. Both pictures and notes are indexed and made searchable. You can even search for printed or handwritten text inside the images.

#2 So have you signed up for LinkedIn yet? If you haven’t, it’s time to get on board. You don't have any excuses with LinkedIn’s mobile app. If you are a busy professional with a Fortune 500 or a small start-up, this handy app lets you check in while on-the-go!

#3 Do you know which fork is the salad fork? How about the proper way to greet a Japanese businessman? With The Protocol Centre’s app, Etiquette Avenue, you will never make another social faux-pas. For just $2.99, you can learn etiquette fit for a king or queen - right your fingertips.

#4 Skype isn’t new on the mobile apps scene, but it needs to be at the top of your apps list this year. Skype mobile connects you with people from across the world. Skype features: Skype-to-Skype calls, instant messaging, and low international call rates.

#5 Twitter continues to be one of the fastest growing micro-blogging platforms on the net. With popular TweetDeck, iPad and iPhone users can tweet from anywhere, any time – 24,7! TweetDeck also helps you automate and save time with tweets.

#6 If you are a PowerPoint-a-holic, then mbPointer: PowerPoint slide show remote control is just what the app doctor ordered. Using your iPhone, you can control every aspect of your PowerPoint presentation - right down to the cursor and slide speed ($2.99 fee).

Come the New Year, these apps will make the perfect addition to your business arsenal. Don’t clog up your mobile devices with ESPN and shopping apps, it’s time to invest in your business when 2011 hits. Download mobile apps that will make your business run more efficiently and save you time – here’s to your success in the New Year!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

KFC Scholarship - Finger Licking Good Press


If I were to say Twitter and philanthropy, you would immediately think of KFC, right? No? Well you should, because the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant chain recently awarded a $20,000 scholarship to a high school student based on a single tweet.

Amanda Russell of Long Beach, Calif. won the scholarship with the following tweet: “Hey Colonel! Your scholarship's the secret ingredient missing from my recipe for success! Got the grades, drive, just need cash!”

KFC’s Colonel’s Scholars’ Program awards 50 to 60 scholarships every year, but this was their first year to use Twitter as the main application tool. And now that the idea is out there, I don’t think it will be long before other companies jump on board with similar social media strategies.

This scholarship is a great example of how businesses can use social media to show their best side. Remember that terribly unhealthy sandwich KFC launched earlier this year - the Double Down? I bet you forgot! Because until I mentioned it, you thought how generous KFC is to Amanda Russell and dozens of young students every year.

And it’s not just because they awarded the scholarship, they also timed it perfectly for the holidays. The yearly cost of college is approximately $7,000 (and that’s not including private school tuitions!) So during this season of giving, KFC brought joy and cheer to one more family – I’m sure Amanda’s parents are doing the happy dance.  It’s a feel-good story that we all love to read during the holiday season.

Twitter not only helped KFC generate good press, but it helped generate good press about their good press! People are retweeting this story like crazy - including myself.   Speaking of KFC, they know how to kill two social media birds with one stone. Too tired to cook during the busy holiday season? Well, it’s only a small leap for a hungry tweeter to suggest KFC chicken for dinner! Smart move, KFC.

The KFC scholarship tweet is a true testament to how companies – especially restaurants - can really make a big publicity splash via social media. This scholarship was not “openly” advertised, yet over 2,800 students knew about it and applied.  A “non-marketed” campaign like the KFC scholarship probably would have failed in years past before social media. But now social media marketing makes it possible for companies to quickly generate publicity and spread goodwill to the masses - ‘tis the season!  


Monday, December 6, 2010

Discover the Lesser Known, Wackier Side to Niche Social Media

Social media isn’t just about tweeting what you had for dinner last night, or playing Farmville on Facebook. Social networking sites allow you to form and join “virtual” communities without having to leave the comfort of your home or office. And once you join, it’s where you can go to quickly and effectively deliver your marketing message to large groups of people across the world. 

If you really want to dial into your target markets, search for lesser known niche social media sites – there’s something for everyone in the World Wide “Wacky” Web.

Take a look at what rapper Snoop Dogg has recently been up to with social media.  He recently teamed up with Norton (anti-virus software) to spread awareness about cybercrime. His campaign is entirely virtual, with a majority of traffic being brought in through social media sites.  Way to go Snoop – that’s how you take a bite out of virtual crime!

There are communities for every niche and group imaginable, and not just the big players such as Facebook and Twitter.  For example, if you run a barbershop then a site for mustache enthusiasts would be right up your alley

The following unusual niche sites think “outside the social media box” – so don’t be afraid to delve into the wackier, lesser known side of niche social media:

Stache Passions is a site devoted to mustache wearers and admirers. It also a great source for mustached individuals to meet, if that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for.

If you belong to the baby boomer generation (or that is your target audience), then you should definitely look into Eons – the online community for baby boomers.

Do you like to sing offbeat and out of key but aren’t a fan of big crowds (and/or own a karaoke bar)? Then Red Karaoke is the spot for you. It’s an online community for karaoke fans. You can record your renditions of songs and post them on the site, and wait for the accolades to roll in – or maybe not!

And finally, if you like…well, ANY and EVERY thing else, then ncludr is where you belong. They say it best, “it’s a social network where everyone and everything is your friend.”

These are just a few of the sites on the wackier side of social media. Don’t be fooled by their unusual angles though. Each of these sites (and MANY more) - if used properly - can play a key role in your niche social media strategy.

These smaller, lesser known sites are the best channels to get your brand into the minds of consumers. And by visiting and joining niche social media sites, you can effectively target your marketing efforts to smaller, less competitive markets – which equals networking with prospects that you might have overlooked otherwise. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

250 Million Members Later: Social Media Shows Big Picture for 2010

This past weekend I overhead a woman discuss with her friend how “ridiculous” Facebook was and how she would never use it in a million years. I just smiled to myself as I tapped away on my Blackberry, and thought about how many times I’ve heard similar comments from social media “non-believers."

It made me think about how this woman’s “never in a million years” attitude towards social media hinders people - especially business professionals - from achieving success. Social media quickly engages and connects people on a global scale, and markets your company’s brands in innovative and cost-effective ways.

Her comment made me wonder why people still fight the “social networking system” – an online networking system that is clearly working.  People who choose to bury their head in the sand, that’s their prerogative but statistics don’t lie - especially when staring you right between the cyber eye. You can’t dispute what happened with the big social media players this year:

  • Look at Facebook’s history: In December 2004, there were one million active Facebook users.  In 2006, Facebook members jumped to 12 million. In the beginning of 2010, Facebook had 250 million users. In just five years, Facebook users grew 250 percent. Not too shabby, Mark Zuckerberg.
  • The number of Twitter users increase by 300,000 people per day. Twitter gets more than 3 billion requests each day, generated by over 180 million unique visitors. Twitter users send more than 55 million tweets per day (640 tweets per second).
  • Twitter has donated access to tweets to the Library of Congress for research and preservation. So if you market your business via Twitter, your tweets are literally a part of history in the making!
  • 85 million LinkedIn members represent 200 countries and every continent. Executives from all Fortune500 companies are LinkedIn members. – that is a LOT of global professionals interacting with each other on a daily basis.

For the woman who touted Facebook as “ridiculous,” I suggest that she join social media-savvy Planet Earth.  Maybe if you spend 24,7 on your Facebook, that might be a bit ridiculous but there is nothing ridiculous about social media and where it’s headed in 2011.





Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday - Online Shopping Safety Tips

The Cyber Monday blitz has begun, and retailers and consumers alike are going retail crazy! Black Friday is done and over with, but we still have Cyber Monday to contend with today! Holiday shopping is easier than ever. With just a click of a few buttons, your holiday shopping is completed. However, online shopping comes with risk so it's good to arm yourself with the following online safety tips. Consumer identity theft is rampant, especially during the holiday season so take extra precautions when shopping online:

Tip #1 Make sure all websites you visit when making purchases begin with "https" and make sure that little padlock key icon pops up whenever you use a site. If you don't see a padlock key pop up somewhere, you might want to skip that site as it's probably not safe to make an online purchase (or a scammer looking to steal your credit card number!)

Tip #2  Print out and save all receipts of online purchases. If your credit card number is stolen, federal law limits your liability to $50.

Tip #3 As with any purchase, make sure you read all the fine print, return policies, etc. 

Tip #4 If it looks and sounds too good to be true, well it probably is - shopper beware! Some discounts aren't really bargains at all so shop around and make sure you're really getting a deal. 

Happy Cyber Monday Shopping! There are lots of great deals out there today so be on your cyber toes - best of luck!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Part Four - Social Wifi® Impacts Future Hotspot Technology

Part Four 

Ryan concludes our interview by sharing how Social Wifi® is destined to make a positive impact on the future of Wi-Fi technology. 

What makes your product better and more innovative than your competitors' products?


We are giving restaurateurs, hoteliers and other service-based companies a tool that adds tremendous value in enhancing their social media presence, email marketing reach, loyalty initiatives and customer engagement - for pennies on the dollar!

Currently, millions of hospitality and service-based businesses are providing Wi-Fi to their guests in ways that can do irreparable damage to their businesses. It's now established that providing a Wi-Fi hotspot is simply the cost of doing business, but providing Wi-Fi in and of itself means very little in terms of return for their business: it's like having a family of five and using a bicycle as your means of transportation - just doesn't make sense!

We customize the platform based on each client's brand. We fully manage the system, provide 24x7 monitoring, security, and it does not interface with their existing systems, such as their POS, PMS, etc. This means the client has a marketing, social media, loyalty promotion engine all built into their Wi-Fi and they don't have to touch it nor worry about it.

Do you think other industries, outside of hospitality and service-based, will follow suit in the next few years? 


It only makes sense for them to follow suit. If you can have a tool that is: customized to your business, doesn't have to be managed by your staff, improves your branding, adds sales and promotional channels, is highly secure and doesn't impede daily operations - all without you lifting a finger - wouldn't you use it?

How do you foresee your product impacting the hi-tech/Wi-Fi technology industry in general?


Don't we all hope that we invented the next Facebook, Twitter, or Google for that matter? Who knows what the future brings?

What we do know, is that businesses are in a position to reap and continue to see long-term success by integrating one small, discreet tool (Social Wifi®) that gives customers what they want and the business more than they could ever hope for in less than 30 seconds!  I also know that by focusing on our clients' success, Social Wifi® will see similar success as well.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Part Three - How Social Wifi® Puts Hospitality Companies on the Map

Part Three...continued 

Ryan Chambers, principal of Adapt Marketing & Design and co-founder of Social Wifi®, explains how their hot spot technology helps hospitality businesses market smarter and faster to customers. 

How will Social Wifi® put hospitality-based and service-based industries on the map?


Social Wifi® will be one of the most cost-effective tools businesses will have. What's really going to expose their brand is simply their customers who access the Wi-Fi hotspot. Within seconds of hopping on the hotspot - whether by mobile device, laptop or iPad - the customer is exposed to the client's social media hubs, specials, incentives, mobile campaign and is seamlessly transitioned into the opt-in email invitation.

For any business owner, CMO or marketing manager, all this data that is provided freely by their customers is worth its weight in gold! We can even segment all the way from zip codes to date of birth! So that's just the first part of how our hospitality clients win.

Then, from your Social WiFi® hotspot, customers begin to engage your brand again OR for the first time! Customers spread this viral buzz to their friends and fans, watch in interactive videos, and check out the latest deals and specials all from your digital playing field.

How does Social Wifi® alleviate their fears and worries?


First, to the person who doesn't want people camping out, we let them know that the nature of his concept or business is what's going to create campers.

If your average menu item is at or over $8 - or your average ticket is over $11 - then you're least likely to have groups of people stay there for hours at a time - simply because it's too pricey to eat and surf for extended periods. The other way of looking at this is, if some patrons do stay at your establishment for 2.5 hours, then this gives your servers an opportunity to sell more, as well as managers to at least say hello to their customers!

For the person who thinks their customers don't use or need Wi-Fi, that translates to the business operator not knowing that people are connected to the web via their mobile devices – which are used now more than ever. These operators are also unaware of location-based advertising and its huge success.

Research shows that in August 2010 over 55 percent of hospitality locations are now offering free Wi-Fi. By December 2010, we anticipate that will be over 60 percent. The data also showed that 40 percent of women and 47 percent of men are more likely to engage brands that have content relevant to their current location.

Basically, the business is out of touch and sometimes it’s a matter of enlightening them. In other cases, you just have to thank them for their time and move on! You can't force someone to care. For corporate concerns, since the only thing Social Wifi® needs is an internet connection, it will not interfere with any business

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Part Two - Why Hotels & Restaurants Don't Use Social Media

Part Two...continued

Ryan Chambers, principal with Adapt Marketing & Design and co-founder of Social Wifi®, tackles the big debate in the hospitality industry. Why don't hotels & restaurants use social media? 

Why are hospitality & service-based businesses still hesitant and/or fearful to use social media? 


Social media and hospitality go hand-in-hand. I think a year or two ago there was still hesitation from a significant part of the industry to avoid social media. It was sort of a ‘wait and see’ mentality. Plus, it was like any other industry. They didn't want to touch a new technology until the critical mass had validated it.

You saw the early adopters - the independent restaurant owners - who needed every single advantage they could get to keep their door opens, then, the larger franchises like Taco Bell.

On the hotel side, your boutique hotels picked up the torch, then your larger hotel brands followed suit.  You see the same thing happening on the food & beverage side now. The hospitality industry, historically, can be one of the slowest turning ships. For decades, decision makers have adopted the classic "if it ain't broke..." mentality. Innovative marketing was not a priority for hotels, partly because they had a number of tentacles touching the consumer on their behalf: travel agents, tourists, business travelers, convention centers, etc.

So with all these opportunities to generate business, the hotel’s Marketing Director or Manager is really just a sales person with a cool title. And that's not a knock on them. It just shows how the organization prioritized certain initiatives.

With restaurants you had the same issue but a little more exaggerated, partly because margins in some cases can be very thin. So when they’re looking at your books every month and they're making money, then there used to be little incentive in their minds to market or to ‘waste time’ on social media.

Then when you add ignorance about a technology and a lack of desire to do anything different, you've got a perfect recipe for stagnation. But there were three important things that kicked the industry in the butt and ultimately changed this mindset. First, the hospitality industry began to notice the social-media-successes from other industries like Entertainment (music especially) and Human Capital (mainly recruiting), and so it began to open their eyes.

Second, they began to feel the effects of the looming recession and when that bad boy hit us, it was like a bully pulling away your chair as you're about to sit. Things were not so predictable anymore - patrons held out, so revenue was shrinking. This meant they had to look at every possible angle and ways to reach out for the sale.

Then finally, we began to see a shift in the workforce - the Millennials and the progressive Gen X's were working together! Talk about an invasion on the old-school's way of doing business! Don't get me wrong, we didn't change a lot of the key business principles, but because on the outside we changed how we wanted companies to do business with us, it inevitably meant that we took these 'new-age' principles into the corporate arena. So now you have an educated, informed, progressive group of marketers who understand, love and live by social media. They not only use social media to ultimately encourage the sale, but to also build brands, engage their audience and participate in what's going on outside the four walls.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hospitality Industry Benefits from Innovative Social Wifi® Hotspot Technology



Happy Thanksgiving Week! This week I am featuring an insightful fourt-part interview featuring hospitality marketing guru, Ryan Chambers, principal of Adapt Marketing & Design.  

“Adapt is a hospitality-focused, integrated marketing firm based in Texas. If your organization operates in the hospitality industry, or if it targets or serves those who operate in the hospitality industry, then we’re definitely the marketing folks for you,” Ryan shares. “We provide strategic, creative social media and mobile marketing services to those wanting to elevate their brand and strengthen their bottom-line within the hospitality space.”

Ryan graciously took time out of his whirlwind schedule to chat with me about Adapt’s newly-launched innovative Wi-Fi hotspot technology, Social Wifi®

As a native-born Jamaican, Ryan was literally born into the hospitality world so it is a natural fit for him to partner with hospitality clients. His dad was an executive chef for a major hotel in Jamaica for 35 years, and his mom was an executive with Hilton Hotels. 

In Part One below, Ryan discusses his inspiration behind Social Wifi® and why the hospitality industry still hesitates to use Wi-Fi platforms.


How and why did you and your co-founder, Risi Avila, create Social Wifi®? What inspired you?


It was one of those things where the stars aligned - I grew up and worked in the hospitality industry and my passion is to help those in the industry to market effectively and smarter. We were in the same place with the same mindset, at the same time. We met in Arlington, Texas in late 2009 at a restaurant that had retained us to help them with their marketing, and Risi was doing their Wi-Fi.

I don't remember the sequence of events, but we began talking about things that could be great to do with a Wi-Fi platform - like email opt-in, social media integration, block porn websites and a bunch of other novel ideas. We quickly realized from our first meeting that we had the same vision, so we moved into quick action by creating the proprietary Wi-Fi platform that our clients love and use today.

What's the biggest reason WHY these business operators won't touch Wi-Fi platforms? What are their biggest complaints/fears?


The biggest one is "I don't want customers camping out at my restaurant." The other top two are: "Our customers don't use or need Wi-Fi here," and "Our corporate office looked at it and they don't want our computer systems to get messed up."

How have your clients - who currently use Social Wifi® - seen improvements in their business? 


We've been piloting for the past 6 months and have noticed great results. A Fort Worth restaurant grew their customer email database to a little under 300 opt-ins in less than 90 days and their Facebook 'friends' and 'Likes' dramatically grew in this same timeframe. By creating video and integrating it on one of our Arlington client's Social Wifi®, they couldn't have enough watermelon salad prepped. People log on to see what treats await them.

Stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow...Ryan tackles the big social media debate: why hotels and restaurants are still hesitant to use social media. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why Companies Need to Jump on Board with Social Media in 2011

People will find any excuse in the book NOT to use social media. As we move into the New Year with an economy that can be best described as “struggling” on a good day, you put your company in jeopardy by not jumping on board with social media. 

People have a way of talking themselves out of beneficial tools that help their business grow. Social media is one of those tools.  Have you yet to join the rest of the world in social networking? What’s stopping you?

These are the 10 most common excuses why businesses don't use social media:

#1 Laziness! Instead of making a change for the better, you’re content to continue with mediocre marketing

#2 You are too busy to put extra time into creating and maintaining social media networks.

#3 You proclaim that Facebook is only a dating pick-up site for college kids.

#4 Social media is too complicated and overwhelming so why bother fussing with it?

#5 Who cares? Social media is a waste of your time and energy.

#6 You think people are rude and aren’t willing to help in a strictly virtual setting.

#7 You think social media is over your head – leave it to the tech wiz!

#8 Social media is all hype - just a passing fad.

#9 Since you’re a solopreneur, you think your company isn’t big enough to benefit from social media.

#10 If you put details about yourself online, you fear someone might take advantage of you.

While keeping up with the rapid development of social media can be intimidating, the simple fact is that NO company can afford to remain blind to its benefits any longer. Social media connections will open up new doors for your business by providing more channels for people to find you. The more your name is out there, the more you brand yourself as an expert in your industry – that’s the name of the game in social media.

Traditional marketing  is not nearly as effective as it used to be. Social media connects you with people you need to know,and brings your company front and center to the public. Social media is free but if it’s implemented and updated regularly, then it will require a committed investment of your time BUT it’s an investment that will see HUGE returns.

Stop making excuses for not using social media. The way the professional world works is changing, and it’s up to you to change with it.  Social media is the quickest, easiest way to market your company. Companies are jumping on board by the truck load. You NEED to be at the front of the line if you want your business to remain relevant and profitable.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Danger of Information Overload in Business - Why It's Time to Turn Off & Tune In

Mondays are always a great day for  introspection, because I kick off each Monday morning with my Copywriters' Mastermind group. Today the subject of "information overload" was brought up as a group. We concluded that the internet opens up SO MUCH information right at our fingertips that we feel overwhelmed and it's just too much. There are business gurus to follow, articles to read and social networking groups to join!  Ughhh, stop the madness!

The conversation continued as I chatted with a friend I hadn't see online lately. He mentioned he just needed to slide off the 'online grid'  in order to get his business ducks in a row. I know that feeling all too well. Online insta-communication is great, but it can be a double-edged sword - enough to make anyone's head spin off into dizzying directions!

As business professionals, there are days when we really need to turn off our laptops and mobile devices for a few minutes each day. We experience information overload every second of the day, and our monkey mind spins out of control. 

Instead of cramming as much information as possible into your noggin, take the time to turn off in order to tune in. As "free love" as that sounds, it's a healthy approach to take when you feel overwhelmed and can't stuff another fact into your brain.

Between webinars and text messaging, technology makes it very easy for us to communicate and connect on a regular basis. Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, reports, "Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003. That’s something like five exabytes of data." 

That's a LOT of information we're creating and taking into our poor grey matter. Before you spend your lunch hour consuming the online version of Wall Street Journal, think about turning off the technology and tune into yourself - yes, a novel concept. If you don't take the time for yourself, no one else is going to do it for you. 

1. Walk away from your desk or computer station. Turn off your cell phone and go outside - even if you only have five minutes to spare, take a deep breath and feel the fresh air filling your lungs. As silly as it sounds, people forget to breathe - a deep, slow inhalation not only relaxes the body, but it rids the lungs of toxins and refreshes the brain.

2. Listen to soothing music. Stash the cell phone in your drawer, sink back into a comfortable chair (whether at home or at the office). Don't do any work. Play soft, soothing music for at least five to ten minutes. Close your eyes and just listen.  Music has a calming effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, and soft music relaxes both mind and body.

3. If possible, don't answer work emails or text messages at home. If your job is an "around-the-clock" type position, that might not be possible. But if you can, check out of your office role and check-in at home. Start slowly. Set a timer and make a promise to yourself not to check your Blackberry or laptop for 30 minutes. Make it a priority to relax - play with your dog, hang out with your family or just sit quietly/mediate without being disturbed.

I'm just as busy as the next person, and I find myself caught in the trap of information overload as well. I practice yoga on a regular basis and my teacher said something very prophetic last week that stuck with me: "Yoga is a work-in NOT a work-out."

This statement could be applied to your daily professional grind when it comes to information. We spend so much time focusing on the external - meet that goal, read that article, write that speech...that we forgot about our internal selves. By just taking a  few "ME"  minutes, your energy increases and makes you more productive in the long run - and puts a smile on your face!

Instead of tuning in all the time, give yourself permission to tune out - you'll definitely feel better!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Does Your Social Media Make the Grade? How to Measure Your OnlinePresence

You post on a daily basis, blog your heart out, and are right on target with your social media. However, have you measured your results lately? Is your social media campaign really working for you?
How does your social media presence measure up to other users out there? The following "grading" apps allow you to check-in with your social media. How well does your company come across to the public? How you could improve your key message points via social media?  These tools are an effective way to gauge your online presence - what's working and what areas could stand improvement.
According to Twitter Grader, I scored 93 out of 100 on my Twitter profile - not too shabby. I must be doing something right with my tweets. Another quirky Twitter app is TweetValue. My profile rounded out to be a whopping $503. Google ranks at the top of their stats at over $166 million - go figure.
For Facebook users, check out Facebook Grader. Facebook Grader takes into consideration a little bit of everything. If you don't fill out your profile accurately or don't have a lot of Friends on your list, points are docked.
For publicists and marketers (or anyone who wants to check the relevancy/accuracy of their press releases), add Press Release Grader to your marketing tools. The grader searches for how well keywords are optimized, language and content, inclusion of links, etc. For copywriters such as myself, it's a handy tool to have in their back cyber pockets.
Other helpful tools for website and blog analysis are Website Grader and Blog Grader.  If you don't have time, you can check out all your accounts at once - Social Grader hits the big ones (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn).
The apps mentioned above are FREE and easy to use. Most of these apps (excluding TweetValue) are created by Hubspot, an excellent resource for social media tools and information and one of many favorites on my bookmark list.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why Two Heads are Better Than One - Don't Berate, Collaborate!

The old saying "two heads are better than one" is my new mantra. I am involved with a fantastic Masterminds group that resulted from my involvement with the International Freelancers" Day Conference - my new copywriting group,  Bhaskar, Jacque and Barb - the Kick A** MasterMind Group (KAMM). Bhas offers our 'international flavor' - a pun on words because he represents Assam where the incredible Assam black tea is produced in India.

I also have been lucky to collaborate and share with amazing colleagues such as Ms. Confident Copywriter/Social Media Guru-ess Victoria Ipri...my working partnership with Ryan Chambers and Joey Do from Adapt Marketing & Design...and the list goes on and on!

I've also moved beyond my comfort zone and am involved with a new "enlightened business professionals" group that meets this week via conference call (I met these amazing people through the Enlightened Business Summit).

As we push forward with our business goals, it's easy to put our noses to the grindstone and roam solo as we keep our eye on the prize. However, we forget about the potential partners and collaborators who could help and guide us with our business goals.

In this economy, it's easy to berate others for their successes and whine: "Why are they making more money than me?" "What do they have that I don't have?"
Well, it's time to stop the pity party and find out what makes them so great. Instead of berating them, collaborate with those you admire. After our KAMM meeting this morning, I felt energized and motivated to forge ahead with my week. I am very grateful and appreciative of their feedback and insight - truly, THREE heads are better than one (in this case!)

I know all the excuses whirring inside your brain when it comes to collaborating with partners - been there, done that.  However, I learned I needed to move past my "I'm gonna do this on my own" mindset. It is OKAY to ask for help sometimes - we all need it.

They will steal my ideas! - No, they will improve upon them and offer you positive, helpful feedback you wouldn't receive otherwise

I know what I'm doing - I don't need anyone's help! - It's time to lose the ego. We all need a little help. Ideas grow stale and sometimes we get stuck. Collaborators offer us fresh, new perspective.

People just annoy me. I do better on my own. - Other people's energy motivates us. Human interaction is what keeps our creative juices flowing. So before you kick other people to curb, listen to what they have to say and maybe you'll learn a few new things!

I don't trust other people to help me with my business. - If you don't trust others, then why do you work with people in the first place? Collaborators and partners make good sounding boards to test new products or ideas. If you can't count on people, then maybe you should re-think why you're in business in the first place. You have to build lasting relationships with your customers and clients, so it makes sense to have a few trustworthy collaborators in your corner. Use sound judgment when it comes to collaborating with others, but don't put up walls either.

So remember...don't berate others for their success or shun the idea of collaborating with other people in your industry who can lend support and expertise. Networking is one thing, but collaboration takes your business to an improved, dynamic level. Don't berate...instead collaborate!

What have been some of your best collaborations and partnerships? Who has helped you along the way?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Move over Wolf Blitzer - SF Columnist Mark Morford Goes Insanely Viral with Post-Elections' Article

The elections are over but there's a BIG stir happening in California post-elections. My favorite SF Gate columnist, Mark Morford, is a classic example of viral marketing gone crazy - but in a good way!

Whether you agree with his politics or not, the fact that his Letter to a Whiny Young Democrat has caught the viral marketing storm since Nov. 3 is phenomenal. Social media marketers could take a page from his Facebook whirlwind. It's a big love fest with excerpts of  his 'hate mail' thrown in for good measure.  The emails are riddled with typos and horrific grammar which makes for a good laugh to kick off the weekend.

So why has his article become a huge smash in only a few days? Mark's followers are going nuts and retweeting his column like crazy - even Roger Ebert tweeted him!

Not only is Mark a pithy 'in-your-face' writer, but he's a smart e-marketer who is hitting upon a very timely, controversial subject that affects us - whether we want to admit it or not. Not to mention his timing was impeccable - his column was posted the day after the elections hailstorm.

He is stepping into the minds of the politically-socially aware and writing about all the things we're thinking (or maybe not thinking) - and his fans are cheering him on from the wings!
His politics aren't everyone's cup of tea but you can't fault him for his savvy social media marketing skills. Mark's got it going on - a great example of social media marketing that is literally ON FIRE!

Congrats Mark!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Enlightened Business Unite - Why It's Time to Shift Our Collective Awareness

I want to share my experiences with the amazing Enlightened Business TeleSummit which wrapped up last Friday afternoon.  I was both blown away and amazed by the truly inspirational speakers I heard throughout the week. A shout out to Lisa Nirell and her fantastic marketing presentation - I was one of the lucky few and won a copy of her book, Energize Growth NOW: The Marketing Guide to a Wealthy Company. Thanks Lisa!

As part of these fantastic and inspirational presentations, I met like-minded business professionals who on are a similar 'enlightened' path. I met wonderful business consultants and life coaches and as a result, we  formed Mastermind groups with each other. Our goal is to further our discussion and collaborations post-Summit. These break-out discussions allowed us to network and share our insight/feedback about speakers and topics - awesome collaboration and meeting of 'enlightened business' MINDS! 

I had the privilege of talking with Jose A. Munoz, Jr. from the Los Angeles area - always fun to meet a fellow Californian! Jose's vision resonates with me and wanted to pass along his insight and business wisdom - especially since we are both committed to helping small businesses achieve their goals in more 'enlightened ways.' The old paradigm of business has shifted. It's time to offer new ways of working together and sharing. It's all about more sustainable solutions - which is Jose's main focus. 

Jose works with people who are owners, managers, and key personnel within organizations with a desire to implement a positive change within small businesses. He is an accomplished and innovative leader with 15 years of solid and progressive experience within multi million-dollar organizations in multiple industries.

Jose holds a Bachelor of Science in Business and Master of Business Administration, with an emphasis in Leadership & Managing Organization Change from the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University. He has used his experience and knowledge to help people accomplish personal and business goals his entire career.

Please check out Jose's inspirational article, Love, Kindness & Compassion in Business  

Jose shares why it's time to 'lead with love' and 'collaborate with compassion." Words to live by as business professionals! Jose welcomes your comments and feedback - please stop by and say hi! 




Thursday, October 28, 2010

Savvy Social Media Apps for Newbie Social Networkers

This is one of the most comprehensive social media-specific blogs that review web applications, social networking tools, Twitter apps, etc. SocialWebtools- anything and everything you've ever wanted to know about social media tools is right at your cyber fingertips. After browsing this site, I realize I still have a LOT to learn about social media apps. However, this is a great place to start for newbies who don't know anything about social media tools or where to start.

Here are a few tips to consider when downloading social media apps.

  • Make sure you are actually going to USE the app and think about if the tools/apps will really save you time with your social media goals. 
  • Search online for more information about the apps to see if they are a good fit for you and your business.
  • Don't jump on the apps bandwagon. Just because everyone is downloading trendy apps to their iPhone doesn't mean it's the best tool to use for your business goals. 
  • Don't duplicate tools or apps - there are many apps that do the same exact thing so pick and choose accordingly.
  • You don't have to spend hundreds on apps - there are plenty of free apps online so don't think you have to spend a ton of money for useful apps.
  • Be careful when downloading web tools from sites - only download from trusted sites such as CNET (this site  has helpful software and apps reviews). 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The True Value Behind Business - Enlightened Business Summit Day #2

I'm participating in the Enlightened Business Summit this week. It's a week-long telesummit showcasing truly inspirational business speakers and NYT bestsellers. I've been blown away by the presentations and it's only Day #2.

As I've mentioned before, I work with hospitality-focused businesses so Chip Conley's presentation, the mastermind behind Joie de Vivre Hospitality, really resonated with me. Chip has also been the fabulous MC for the Summit.

I like Chip's message because he speaks to the small business owner. Even though his company catapulted the charts and is touted as the second largest hotelier in the U.S. and the first in California, he tells it like it is - and he's enlightened. There's a reason why he's THE guy when it comes to the boutique hotel industry.

The theme of the conference is to raise the consciousness of business professionals across the world - it's time to shift and think about new, innovative ways to do business. It's time to steer away from outdated business mode and look at WHAT really matters in business - values, culture, leadership, emotions, dreams, energy, etc.- yeah, scary stuff! But it's not that scary. Globally, we need to work together to make this shift and it's happening - one micro step at a time.

Chip brought up some points that hit the nail on the head for me. He shared that 'the most neglected fact in business is that we are all human.' It's time to throw away the "I must be perfect" name badges and join the imperfect human race, and learn from our mistakes.

He also talked about a huge factor that I think gets lost, especially for new small business owners and freelancers. He pointed out that if you start a small, new business, that you should pick a small niche and serve that niche effectively. I couldn't agree more. He started with a small niche - boutique hotels that had a funky edge to them - and he grew it into a huge business, Joie de Vivre.

Start small equals grow big is a concept that 'gurus' out there need to take to heart in their own messaging. Many "six figure" super stars proclaim that newbies (especially copywriting and marketing giants) can make MILLIONS if they target large corporations. Take a page from Mr. Conley. Did he hit up the Marriotts and Hiltons? No, he stuck with the little guys and that niche thinking worked! His company's successes are proof that niche marketing really is the way to go for small businesses.

Highlights from his presentation that really hit home:
  • Are businesses measuring the right things? Are you measuring the "intangibles?" Are you measuring customer and employee satisfaction?  Company culture?  
  • Reputation does MATTER! Be aware and treat people better. 
  • Your actions as a leader are magnified much more than you realize! 
 I've been really impressed with the incredible line-up of speakers...stay tuned...will be sharing more highlights and feedback throughout the week!

Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Save Face on Facebook

I've been devouring articles and ebooks lately. I came across this comprehensive list of easy tricks and tips related to Facebook. Facebook constantly changes its rules and settings, but this is a general to do and don't list to get you started. 

My favorites are: 'share nicely' and 'walls aren't for sharing personal details' - my biggest peeves when it comes to Facebook. Check out this comprehensive list by Hazel Grace Dircksen, founder of the SocialBees group on Facebook and Biznik.


How do you save face on Facebook? Any tips that this list missed? Please share. 



Friday, October 22, 2010

How to Refresh Your Business Image in 5 Easy Steps

As I drove around my small northern California town this week, I noticed a lot of "Going Out of Business" signs. Unfortunately, this is the norm for many local, small businesses based on the U.S. economy. It's sad to see long-time businesses closing their doors.

What is really happening and why are these businesses closing up shop? Could they have saved their business? Was their marketing non-existent? Obviously, it comes down to dollars and cents. However, marketing is an integral part of any business - small, medium or large. But what does it take to shape things up on the business-front? Do what any celeb does who has taken a nose-dive in the public eye - re-invent yourself!

If you teeter on the edge of closing up shop, check out these five marketing steps and see where you stand. Could you do something different with your marketing strategies? Is it time to bite the marketing bullet and embrace change?

Last year, I helped one of my clients, a local tax & financial consultant, basically re-invent her business image. This marketing overhaul included working with a web designer to create a new company name, logo/slogan and brand-spanking new website. As the copywriter, I wrote strong, cohesive copy that tied back to her new branding.

What did she learn from "refreshing" her business image? After twenty plus years as a local tax & financial consultant, she wants to remain competitive in the local market and attract new clients/bring in new business. She realized her old name and slogan weren't working - it was time to spruce up and super-charge her image - and it's definitely working.

If your business teeters on the edge of closing up shop, check out these five easy marketing steps and see where your business stands.

1. Don't create a cryptic-sounding company name and slogan. If YOU read your slogan back to yourself and can't understand it, then it's definitely time to go back to the drawing board. If you have no idea what your company or slogan means, then how do you expect customers to understand what you're all about? What worked 30 years ago probably won't work in 2010. However, "don't fix what's not broken either" - if your slogan is what really makes your business, don't change just for change sake.

2. Apply the "KISS" rule to your marketing messages - whether it's an ad or tweet. Keep it short & simple.

3. Make your message sound believable and forget the hype - when you send out email campaigns, leave out the spam-sounding headlines. Don't make promises you can't keep and don't go overboard with the wording - goes back to the above "KISS" rule. Steer clear of confusing language and use easy-to-read bullet points and attractive graphics in your emails.

4. Be creative. Make your company look enticing & sound attractive - whether it's your store front window or marketing brochures. Would you shop at a store that promises quality merchandise but the brochure includes unappealing, washed-out photos of that same merchandise? I know I wouldn't shop there!

5. If your message sounds boring and uninteresting, forget holding customers' and clients' attention for long. As a copywriter, this is where I suggest descriptive words come into play. As a consumer, I'm more apt to check out a day spa that paints me a picture of "picturesque, meandering forested paths while sipping Earl Grey tea" as opposed to "kick back & check out our cool day spa in the mountains." Also, what you write in your marketing messages isn't about what YOU like or want - it's what interests your customers and what appeals to them.

It's time to get inside customers' and clients' heads - think about how to describe, promote and market your features, amenities, products and services that will keep you on the map - literally! With online marketing, it makes it SO easy to have a strong marketing presence between websites and social media. Use these tools to your advantage and don't let technology pass you by! It could be a matter of saving your business!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Why You Don't Have to Spend Thousands on Video Marketing

As a copywriter, I know this sounds strange but people don't want to read a lot of text. They also are busy and don't have a lot of time to sift through updates and content. Yes, you don't want your content to be boring, but in the cyber world "flashy right-now-wow" video is a winner every time! 

We live in a world filled with sound, color and speed - from video games to surround-sound movies. We want loud, daring special effects and we want to be entertained. Not only do social media users want to be entertained but they don't have hours in their busy schedules to be entertained so you have to make it QUICK!  You really only have a few seconds to make a lasting impression.

Here's the good news - you don't need to spend thousands on fancy video editing equipment or have hi-tech knowledge to create a powerful video marketing campaign. Do you have a digital camera that has video capability? Then you're all set because that's really all you need! 

  • For shorter videos, keep the length between 60 to 90 seconds and do NOT read from a script.
  • Bullet points/outlined points are handy to have, but don't sound like an amateur and read in a monotone voice from a canned script. 
  • Be innovative and creative when making videos - interview a leading expert in your field and/or use humor (but be professional!) 
  • Remember the video isn't for YOU - it's for your audience so keep them entertained! 

There are  handy, easy-to-use widgets such as Yubby  that won't cost you a penny. There are also free video editing software available such as iMovie (for Macs) and Movie Maker (Windows-based).  Between YouTube and other free video hosting sites, video marketing is a no-brainer- even for the most novice of video producers and social media marketers!










Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why Companies Need to Closely Manage Social Media Updates

I just read a good article on Social Media Today, 10 Ways Offline Businesses Can Use Social Media. I agree with many of the points brought up in the article. However, I disagree with #4 - about putting your company to work when it comes to social media. Sometimes "too many cooks in the kitchen" can ruin a company's social media marketing campaign. 

I think it depends on the size of your company. If you are a one or two person business, then it's very likely you'll be managing your social media accounts. In larger companies, it's not a good idea to have ALL your employees involved in social media marketing.

I think it's great that companies want to create a positive buzz about their brand, products and services. However, there needs to be a united front when it comes to a company's social media marketing message. As a copywriter and online marketing consultant, I think this is very important that posts/updates are written cohesively with a clear message in mind - and your target market in mind. 

However, it's up to you - the company decision maker - to decide your course of social media action. If your business is more casual and niche, then it might be prudent to include your employees in your social media frenzy.

Here are a few tips to pass along if you decide to allow your employees to post social media updates: 

  • Make sure you either have a meeting or send out a memo as to what messages/updates are deemed appropriate and what's not appropriate. Obviously, you don't want your employees using inappropriate language or trashing competitors - so make sure you spell out CLEARLY your expectations/social media update rules.  
  • Send examples of published posts to employees so they can get a feel for tone and messaging. You don't need to dictate verbatim what they should write, but messaging needs to remain cohesive - this is imperative when it comes to social media marketing.
  • If anyone breaks the company's social media rules, they should be taken out of the mix altogether and not be allowed to post updates anymore - that's just good business sense. Online reputation is everything! You don't want a rebellious employee posting drunk holiday party pictures as a joke to be the demise of your company! 

As I previously mentioned, I don't think it's a good marketing idea for larger companies to have their employees go crazy with social media updates. It could be counter-productive to their job duties,  and employees already spend enough time on their personal Facebook accounts as it is.

I recommend that companies invest in a trained social media marketing consultant, or leave it to their sales, marketing and/or communications staffs to create editorial-driven, professional social media marketing campaigns.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Why It's Time to Give up Toxic Gossip in the Professional World

This weekend I heard an excellent teleseminar presented by author and speaker, Susan Shapiro Barash, about how gossip damages friendships and relationships.  I've seen this happen on professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn. There is this constant  juvenile back stabbing mentality that is fueled by competition and jealousy - it just needs to STOP. I have written blog posts about this in the past and it's a topic that is not addressed enough.

We all have been the gossiper or the one being gossiped about at some point in our lives. Whether it's been in our social or profession circles, gossip is just toxic and hurts a lot of people and ruins reputations. 

Social media makes it easy for people to easily gossip about other companies, employees and clients. It's one thing to create a positive buzz about your products and services and company brand, but it's another to be a virtual gossip and slam other people and companies online. 

After listening to Susan, I realized that the tips she provided cross over to our professional relationships. It's time for the professional world to drop toxic gossip - "if you don't have anything to nice to say, don't say anything at all." I'm not advising against expressing your opinion or standing up for your beliefs and ethics. However, don't stoop to a negative level. If you earn a reputation as an online gossip (or even an offline gossip), no one will want to do business with you or buy your products or services - not to mention they will stop inviting you out to lunch!

Another tip: Take an inventory of your relationships. Are you hanging onto clients or colleagues who are toxic and aren't making a positive impact on your life or business? Ditch them! They will only drag you down in the end and think about your ROI - is it really worth their drama?

Think of it this way - would a good friend or ethical business colleague/client turn around and text something about you or post something in a group email IF they were a true friend or business partner? The answer is a resounding NO.

When it comes to gossip, it could potentially ruin a person's professional reputation - whether the rumor is unfounded or not. Think before you type (or speak). Would you want someone talking about you in an unfavorable way? We all are working hard to build our professional reputations. It doesn't help when someone gossips about you behind your back - whether online or offline.

Keep the online "word-of-mouth" clean, light and GOSSIP-FREE! Leave the gossip to the celebrity tabloids who have way too much time on their hands. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Skyping & IM'ing - Why Insta-Communication is Your Friend & Foe

I'm a Skype-a-holic Skyper and log into Skype every day. I work with a Texas agency and I live in California - makes communication between us a lot easier. Who doesn't love the modern conveniences of insta-communication? Between phone conferences and instant messaging, my world is a constant stream of phrases that include:"Can you Skype conference call at 4pm PDT? or "I'm sending the website link right now via chat."  Skype works great for international calls. I recently talked to a friend in Australia and another colleague in Argentina - not too shabby for not having to pay a dime to use Skype.

In May, Skype added their app so people can use it on 3G networks - another great idea. Or is it? As a Blackberry user, I became frustrated with learning the in's and out's of my Skype app but I worked through the techie hoopla. 

Are these insta-communication online tools really our friends or possibly our foes? TeleGeography reported that 54 billion minutes international call minutes (out of a total of 406 international call minutes) were Skpe-to-Skype international calls. That's a lot of chattiness happening in the world. How much is used for business and how much for pleasure? How many people use instant messaging for good or for evil?

What's so great about Skype and instant messaging chat programs such as Yahoo Messenger or Gmail's chat feature? Yes, they are fast and convenient and you can chat 24,7 and 365 days a year. As a business professional, these programs have made my life a lot easier.

However, as easy and wonderful as this technology makes our lives, it also carries risk. For companies who use Skype and instant messaging technology, you face security, compliance, inappropriate usage by employees and of course, the biggie - trade secret leaks. Then we have those friendly crackers (black hat hackers) who sneak into Yahoo Messenger and attack with "phishing" (pesky spam and bots that pop out from the cyber ether). Even though "insta-communication" online makes our lives more convenient, be aware of the security risks - make sure your firewalls and virus softwares are up-to-date.

I'm not giving up my instant messaging programs or Skype anytime soon but it makes me think more carefully about what I share and whom I share it with in IM-Land or via Skype call. Now if only Skype could deliver a latte to me in the morning - maybe Starbucks and Skype should team up- hmmmm, that's a thought.

How has Skype and/or instant messaging made your life/business easier, or maybe it hasn't? Happy Skyping & IM'ing!  

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why You Need to Be a Left Brain & Right Brain Entrepreneur

Last week, I shared my insightful interview with my friend and mentor - online marketing guru-ess, Victoria Ipri. After chatting with Victoria, I thought about my own path as a freelancer and entrepreneur.  I realized that dynamic entrepreneurs such as Victoria Ipri are successful because they aren't afraid to dive into unknown waters.

I had the privilege of recently participating in a teleclass by the lovely and energetic SARK called "Magic Management." It was geared towards solo professionals, business owners and anyone who wants to pursue their deepest passions and dreams. She talked with us about our "Inner CEO" (doer) versus our "Inner Spirit" (dreamer) - our left and right brain energies. It made me realize - hmm, have I been truly tapping into these energies and making them work for my business and my clients?

As entrepreneurs, it's imperative that we tap into both our left and right brain energies in order to be successful. Sometimes those tried and true marketing methods that worked in 1995 may not work anymore in 2010. Fear stops us from taking that leap into the unknown - maybe that "unknown" has stopped you from creating a website or writing a blog. That little voice inside your head - your nagging inner critic - tells you "Noooo, I can't write!" We need to stop listening to our inner critics.

Do you realize you could be missing out on HUGE business opportunities if you ignore your creative side? You don't need to reserve your creativity for JUST your personal life. Sometimes it doesn't come easily for us to tap into our creativity and make it work in our business world. However, it's a matter of taking that leap of faith to delve into a place that's uncomfortable. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Interview on Leigh Writes Copy - thanks Leigh!

A big thanks to Leigh Muzslay Browne for featuring me on her Leigh Writes Copy blog today. I talk about my non-profit fundraising days and how it led me to my writing and freelance career. I really appreciate the support of all my friends, family, colleagues and clients throughout my freelance journey!


Monday, August 30, 2010

The Emmy Awards & The Social Media Red Carpet

Ryan Seacrest is notorious for tweeting every chance he gets - especially when he was chilling out with his celebs on the Academy Awards' red carpet.

Now it was Jimmy Fallon's turn - as he tweeted with the best of them at the Emmy Awards last night. Hollywood was buzzing with social media mania last night as tweeters and Facebookers shot off the latest updates on their social media sites.

NBC was on top of their social media game last night! By the way, big congrats to my favorite show, Mad Men, and actor Jon Hamm (please call me, Mr.  Hamm, if you should end up single or without a publicist!)

The big players are smart - using social media to increase their ratings. The power of social media is definitely making a bit hit on the airwaves these days.

So how many TV celebs did you stalk on Twitter last night?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Twiffienciency Not So Twifficient - Bordering Spammy!

Have you heard about Twifficiency?

Yes, another new Twitter app that calculates your Tweety-ness, or in this case your "Twifficiency."

Since it launched last week, Twitter streams have been bombarded with tweeters' rates. It has been touted as a "rogue" application and has received criticism - that even techno savvy users can be tricked into spamming (it blasts out everyone's score via tweets). It helps to read the fine print.

It turns out it was a young emo-esque lad from Scotland didn't think his app would take off and be this popular - let alone turn into a Spam Fest on Twitter. Even Google execs failed the Twiffiency exam - read the full scoop here.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Check Your Ego at the Door - How Social Media Lost Its Manners

What happened to common courtesy? More specifically, what happened to professionalism and good manners on social media platforms?

I'm not even talking about Facebook (not that I'm excusing anyone who uses Facebook to blast and criticize others!) It's time for people to start checking their ego at the door because there is no room in professional social networking for huge egos and negativity. It's turned into one big slam fest. I've written about this topic before but it seems to have grown worse over the summer months.

Why are these people so bitter? Did they lose their job? Do they hate the economy and give into all the negative hype in our world right now? Do they need a good dose of Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins? What's up with their bad 'tudes?

It has turned into a "look at me, look at me!" show-down where these supposed business professionals try to one up each other. I've met some amazing people on LinkedIn and have found clients on there so the power of LinkedIn works - when people actually USE it in a positive way and aren't such Debbie and Danny Downers.

Competition is good - don't get me wrong. However, telling people they suck or people's posts are "just sad" (direct quote from a marketing professional on there who shall remain nameless) is beyond rude and unprofessional. As a freelancer, I always try to put my best "face" forward especially when my words represent who I am and my business brand. 

It's not surprising that people are getting fired from their jobs based on what they write on social media sites. If I had employees and saw the horrible things they wrote to other business professionals on LinkedIn, they would be fired - no questions asked.

So for all the egomaniacs who post on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, I have one question for you: do you talk to your mother like that? I didn't think so!

My advice - skip over groups that don't interest you and keep your negativity to yourself. There's no need to harass, threaten, put down, criticize or chastize others because they don't have the same type of experience you have or GASP, they repeated the same information that someone just posted ten posts ago. 

If some of these egos are checked at the door - maybe just maybe - social media can find its manners again. I'm hopeful.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Soft Sell Technique - How to Make Lasting Impressions & Relationships

As a fundraiser who met with corporate executives on a regular basis, I learned that going in for the kill (aka the ASK, as we called it in fundraising) was NOT the way to cultivate relationships.

The term "soft sell" was common lingo in my fundraising world. I was selling awareness - bottom line. It wasn't about going in there and asking for a huge chunk of change. Why would these corporate big whigs want to become a corporate sponsor for my golf tournament? What was in it for them? The benefits?

Preparation was the key and research! Lots of research! I dug out my Book of Lists and spent time researching their philanthropy history. I never went into that initial meeting blindly. I learned names - and who made the ultimate decision.

So what can the fundraising "soft sell" technique teach you? It's all about taking the soft approach with your clients and customers. People aren't going to part with their money just like that! They need a reason and a good reason to invest their money and their time into a worthwhile cause. In your case, you want people to find a good reason to invest in your product or service.

I massaged a lot of relationships during my non-profit days and many did not donate right away or they donated something even more valuable - their time and their employees' time (volunteering is worth its weight in gold!)

Traditional sales and marketing tout that the only way to make the sale is that you MUST go in for the KILL. That's the fastest and easiest way to turn off people and lose customers for good. Who wants an aggressive, fire-breathing salesperson in your face or on the phone with you 24,7?

If you want to make a lasting impression and build long-lasting relationships, it's all about cultivation and massaging that relationship - and it may take two months or it might take a year. Be genuine and don't shine on people with a "waste their time" dog and pony show.

People aren't dumb and they can smell a fake a mile away.

So forget any hard sales tactics you've learned along the way and opt for the soft sell. Be consistent and keep it real!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mobile Marketing - The Power of Text Messages

I recently took a breather and have enjoyed a few vacations recently. At the airport, I noticed that a LOT of people were using mobile devices to check their email or to update their Facebook (not to mention my friends and family members who are iPhone and Blackberry addicts!)

Like my fellow travelers, I probably use text messaging far more than my email these days and makes running my life and business a lot easier!

As I thought about HOW many people use a cell phone with text features, I realized that if businesses really want to capture live audiences, then mobile marketing is the way to go these days! 

As the world goes "mobile," it makes sense to incorporate mobile marketing campaigns into your marketing and promotions strategies. 

Benefits of mobile marketing include:

- Quickly reaches a HUGE global audience 

- Mobile users respond faster to text messages compared to standard email campaigns 

- Use mobile marketing to blast out special deals and giveaways (especially if you are in the sales and/or retail industry!)

- Cost-effective and efficient - you don't have to break the bank to implement mobile marketing.

It also helps to stay on top of the latest technology trends and mobile apps (the iPhone comes out with new apps daily!) 

Happy Texting! 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Copywriting Vs Copyrighting - No, It's Not About Books

As a copywriter, I am asked all the time: "Do you work with books?" I actually did work in publishing many moons ago, but I don't "copyright" books. I write sales and promotional copy for websites, email campaigns, white papers, marketing/sales collateral, etc. I also write press releases, articles and blogs.

Just a quick lesson on copywriting and copywriters:

  • Wikipedia's definition - "Copywriting is the use of words to promote a person, business, opinion or idea. Although the word copy may be applied to any content intended for printing (as in the body of a newspaper article or book), the term copywriter is generally limited to such promotional situations, regardless of media."
  • A copywriter is hired to write advertising, sales or publicity-based copy.

A copywriter CAN write articles and probably knows AP-Style like the back of their hand. Like me, some of us copywriters have journalism backgrounds but that's not always the case. 

Don't assume that a copywriter also DESIGNS websites. Some freelance copywriters are knowledgeable in HTML and some offer two-fold services - copywriting and web design but that's usually not the case. Don't always assume a copywriter is a designer and vice versa - designers aren't copywriters either!

Before hiring a freelance copywriter, check out their writing samples and always ask for references. Be wary of hiring a copywriter through freelance bidding sites - you get what you pay for and content writers are NOT copywriters. There is a HUGE difference. There's a certain trick and talent when it comes to writing effective sales copy. 

If you hire a copywriter, please take their work and efforts seriously. If you think YOU can do a better job writing copy, then don't hire a professional copywriter. 

IF you want to increase sales and  profits, improve your branding, add SEO copy to your social media and websites or take your marketing campaign to a new level- think about taking the pressure off your shoulders! Hire marketing professionals and copywriters to do the hard work for you.

There's a reason why us copywriters are out there - it's our job to make you sound great without sounding too gimmicky or fluffy.

Don't pretend you're a writer when you aren't. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. If you are trying to save a buck and write the copy yourself - you actually could put yourself out of business. The written word sends a powerful message and your reputation is always on the line (especially ONLINE!)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Seminars, Classes & Events - What's Your Real ROI?

Recently, a friend asked my advice about teaming up with a few colleagues for a joint event/class. She was dealing with some issues regarding expenses and her ROI based on the time and energy she put into the class's preparations.

I think joint partnerships and cross-promotions are an excellent idea. After years of event planning and working in non-profit, I highly recommend joint special events (especially if you want to save a few marketing dollars!) It can save all parties involved time and money; however, there are few pitfalls you need to avoid from a marketing viewpoint.

1. Sign a contract. I know that sounds a bit stringent but make sure you have everything in writing with all speakers involved. Make sure that you divide your profits equally (dependent upon the role/participation of each speaker).

2. Agree upon a reasonable fee and make sure you make a profit from the fees you charge. If your expenses are more than your fees, you may need to re-adjust your fees. Think about your expenses: room rental and miscellaneous costs such as food and beverages, printing, marketing, etc.

3. Look for cost-effective ways to reduce your expenses. Does one of the speakers have a conference room that you can use for free?

4. Don't go overboard with what you present to guests/attendees. Don't bombard your audiences with information overload. Keep the presentations to a minimum allotted time and don't make them fall asleep with too much or boring information!

5. Always survey your guests. Ask guests to fill out a quick questionnaire to see what part of the class they liked/disliked. This is a great way to target your audience even better, and present them with valuable information at your next class/seminar!

Monday, March 29, 2010

How to Bring Back the Personal Touch in Your Emails

I wanted to share an example of great customer service and follow-up that happened to me this weekend. It reminds me of how much the personal touch goes a long way. You can't survive with "template" emails anymore. Email campaigns are great but if you forget the personal touch in your correspondence, you are doomed.

I am reading "The Wealthy Freelancer" (every freelancer should read this book). I can't put this book down and wanted to let the authors know how much I loved it. I also tweeted about how much I enjoyed it as well. I received a personal message on my Twitter from one of the authors, and then received a personal email message from the other co-author.

My first thought was: "Wow, these authors really care about their readers and our thoughts!" Not only do they care, but they really appreciated my feedback and took the time out of their busy schedules to respond personally to me. They could have easily sent one of those annoying responder emails: "Sorry, we have too many questions and we might not be able to answer your question personally." That's usually when I opt-out of newsletters or stop subscribing to the website. It's a huge turn off and it makes me wonder if they really care about their customers and clients.

It's also nice to know that Pete Savage and Ed Gandia (the authors who personally responded to me) practice what they preach in their book. Instead of paying lip service, they walk the walk and talk the talk. They really want fellow freelancers to succeed and are REALLY there (beyond the scope of the book) to provide encouragement and support. It made me feel like someone was finally taking us freelancers seriously and that my opinion DOES count!

So what can you learn from this example and how can you apply it to your own business? The personal touch goes a LONG WAY - even if it's just a quick "we haven't touched based in awhile, how are you doing?" email to let clients know you are thinking of them. Instead of blasting out template emails when people send you positive feedback on your website or blog, take a few extra minutes to send a personal email. In this crazy, busy world people still want to feel appreciated and "heard."

You can also take it beyond personal emails with your customers and clients:

  • Send hand-written thank you notes and cards for referrals, etc.
  • Follow-up with emails that include articles or helpful tips
  • Pick up the phone and call them - remind them that you are there for them and ready to help them!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Why You Shouldn't Use Social Media

What?!!! I know what you're thinking - everyone uses social media these days so why are you telling me NOT to use social media? Before you sign up for social media accounts, stop and think if social media is the right marketing channel to use. Not everyone or every business should use social media.

There are a few exceptions to the rule when NOT to use social media - do you fall under these categories?

  • If you have a a few high-end customers or clients (who spend in the millions) you definitely don't want to go the social media route to stay connected with them. Face-to-face, personalized visits and phone calls would work better.
  • If your company is unionized and there is constant on-the-job turmoil with labor disputes, steer clear of social media to spread the word unless you want a PR nightmare. Not a good idea!
  • Don't use social media just because everyone is using it. You need to have a focused marketing objective and needs to fit into your company's branding and messaging.

Before you start to tweet or sign up for Facebook, evaluate your social media needs. Do you really need social media and is it going to help you in your specific business/industry? Not everyone needs to use it and it may be a hindrance to your marketing strategy in the long run.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

How to Lose Customers in 3 Easy Steps

If you haven't checked out LinkedIn, I highly suggest signing up for this savvy business social networking site. A fellow member wrote a post today about bad manners in business. He's also a copywriter and we shared similar nightmare stories about how businesses treat freelancers and contractor. The gist of his post: what happened to GOOD manners and common courtesy in the business world?

If these companies treat contractors that poorly, what does that say about how they treat their customers and clients?

Don't fall into that bad customer service bracket. Word-of-mouth travels fast and when I have a bad experience with a company - as both a contractor and customer/client - I let everyone know! I want to save others the hassle of being treated poorly.

Avoid these biggest mistakes when dealing with your clients, customers and vendors. Do not turn into a tactless, rude business professional!

1. Never follow-up with anyone - In this tenuous economic climate, this is the #1 way to lose your existing clients and customers. This rule also applies to your colleagues. If you want to make a lasting impression (a bad impression), don't ever call anyone back and let your emails pile up for days.

2. Talk and never listen - If you are always talking, how can you ever listen to your customers' and clients' feedback and what they want? This also applies to your employees. This is the worst possible thing you could do - to always talk and NEVER listen. How can you improve your services and products if you never listen to what your customers and markets really want?

3. Be rude and condescending - This sounds like a no-brainer but this is a sure fire way to anger customers and clients, and lose them permanently. Even if customers are upset and angry, handle their issues with courtesy, respect and tact. If you take on a condescending, rude attitude with them, you can kiss them good-bye.

Manners go a long way these days: "Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude." Think before you speak and act - remember that you want to leave a lasting GOOD impression.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Easy Spring Networking Tips: How to Network Without Really Trying

You probably don't even realize it but about an hour ago you just had a great networking opportunity but missed it. You were standing in line at Starbucks chatting with another business professional about the great spring weather.

It's time to stop hiding behind your laptop and take advantage of those "every day" networking opportunities that are passing you by at this very moment. As a freelancer, I get bored going to the same "15 second" elevator-speech type networking groups. These are great spots that you can network without really trying and have fun at the same time!

It's time to get out there and enjoy the warmer, spring temperatures but it's also a great time to take advantage of networking venues that may have completely slipped your mind:

Outdoor cafes and coffeehouses - I can't begin to tell you how many leads I've generated just by sitting at coffeehouses and cafes. Business professionals flock to these spots for meetings and appointments - just to get out of the office! Strike up a conversation while you're line and don't forget to bring your business cards. You never know who'll you'll meet!

Dog parks - Yes, dog parks! What better way to meet people than to talk about your mutual love of animals. If you are a city dweller, you probably will find the same people frequenting the local dog park - a great chance to get to know your neighbors and also to chat business as Fido and FiFi run around together!

Your kids' after-school events and sports activities - Another fun way to get to know other parents and maybe chat business in between baseball innings. You never know who they know, or what leads you have for them.

Exercise classes and the gym - This is another great hot spot to connect with people. You both share a love of exercise, so why not get to know the people in your yoga class or find a work out buddy? Not only will you have fun meeting people but you might make some lucrative business connections as well!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Mobile Generation: How Text Speak Dumbs Down Writing

A friend recently asked my advice about the legitimacy of a blog writing opportunity. My first red flag was his correspondence between the CEO of a consulting company. The CEO wrote the entire email in “text speak.” It’s one thing if you text your spouse or friend, but it’s another to send an unprofessional email riddled with “How r u 2 day?”

As the i-Phone and i-Pad takes the mobile world by storm, where does that leave the English language and written communication? Do we adapt to this hip, Emo-esque code language that leaves us scratching our heads?

The “text speak” emails from this business professional made me wonder about the future of marketing communications. Will I be forced as a copywriter to "dumb" down my writing? Mobile technology takes social media to a new level, so as a marketing professional I'm not knocking it's efficiency.

My question to the gurus of mobile technology: Will the English language, as we know it,eventually become lost in a cyber sea of LOLs and OMGs? As mobile communication becomes faster, bolder and smarter, what about the written word? I see the negative impact on mobile technology with younger kids who now communicate in this "text" speak and have lost all sense of proper grammar - this is frightening.

I'm in favor of technology, especially mobile technology - it definitely makes my life and business easier. However, where do we draw the line with "text speak" and how it impacts language and communication? What will the cost be down the road for future generations?

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

Content Writing & Marketing Tips ** Online Buzz Branding

** Digital & Social Media Strategies