Tuesday, December 27, 2011
I've always been lucky that the Universe aligns me with fantastic clients and colleagues. I can't say enough about the top-notch business professionals I've met through LinkedIn and through my social networks. I also want to thank my amazing professional mentors and business partners who have been my biggest fans and supporters: Ryan Chambers (Principal & Owner, Adapt Marketing & Design), Susan Malone (Malone Editorial Services), and Kathleen Torres, my amazing leadership coach.
I was also able to travel to Hawaii in August, and it was my first experience with the Hawaiian culture and people. It felt nice to kick up my heels, bask in the sun and just revel in the majestic, mystical beauty of Maui. My Hawaiian vacation also taught me a life lesson, and was a good reminder for me not to take life and work so seriously. Hawaiians move at a much slower pace and really take time to enjoy life; it's all about "ohana" (family)!
When I think about professional "resolutions" for the new year, it seems that most entrepreneurs come from a place of "I need MORE, I want MORE, etc." Who doesn't want more clients and money? But this insatiable desire to want MORE seems to be counter-productive. Goals are great to have and I have plenty of them, but owning and running a business is not always about the bottom dollar.
I offer a different approach to "boost" your entrepreneurial spirit. I do not have a miracle cure on how to "fix" or make your business successful, so take my words with a grain of salt. Only you know exactly what works and doesn't work for your business.
I definitely had my moments of "am I crazy to be an entrepreneur?" this year, but I also experienced clarity where it all made sense and I can't imagine doing anything else.
How can you boost your entrepreneurial spirit in 2012?
1. Be true to yourself. Don't mold your business, goals and objectives to fit someone else's expectations or ideals. This is YOUR business and you don't have to be a cookie-cutter entrepreneur. Give yourself permission to explore and discover your niche - what makes sense for YOU?
2. Follow your gut instinct and say NO! I love the word "no" -- it is a very empowering word. I recently turned down a project because I just wasn't feeling it. Could I use the money? Yes, but at what price? Time is precious to me and without taking time to relax, what good am I to my clients?
3. Don't be afraid to challenge other people's opinions, ideas and methods. There isn't a right or wrong way to run your business, and don't believe everything you read. This goes back to being true to yourself. There may be so-called experts touting off-the-wall, "drink the Kool-Aid" unethical ideas that don't sit well with you. Research, challenged and dig deeper, and don't be afraid to call someone on the carpet if you disagree. I'm not telling you to be disrespectful and rude and slam them on social media, but it's okay to agree to disagree with fellow entrepreneurs. Your ideas and opinions are just as important as the next person!
My yoga teacher ends each class with: "May you be happy, may you be well and may you know peace." This is my heartfelt wish for you all in 2012!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I enjoy reading TechCrunch's articles, but it makes me wonder what's happened to the editorial team at TechCrunch? Is TechCrunch THAT hard up for traffic? There are brilliant tech writers out there, and it makes me scratch my head as to why they passed over reputable tech experts for an annoying shock jock ranter (who is NOT a tech writer, by the way).
Yes, I know - shocking rants sell and brings in traffic by the boat load. But at what price? The article was sexist, biased and poorly researched. Is that the reputation TechCrunch wants? To be known as a site that publishes biased juvenile rants?
As an internet marketer, I understand that content marketing is a numbers game. But I only had to scroll through the negative comments to see that not only was the writer being called on the carpet (by fellow entrepreneurs) for her poorly researched biased article, but TechCrunch was also named for their lack of poor judgement.
This article made me stop and ask myself the question: what's happened to ethical content marketing and why are reputable sites like TechCrunch publishing such drivel? It all goes back to online reputation - the kind of content you post on your site can have a negative, detrimental impact on your brand. And in this digital age when we can push a button and tweet to our hundreds of thousands of followers and they can tweet to their followers, it only takes one tweet or post to do serious damage.
The TechCrunch articles also reminds me of the very reason why I opted out of Copyblogger. With all due respect to Brian Clark and his team, Copyblogger published an article by a non-copywriter who snubbed copywriters and the profession of copywriting. Ironically, Copyblogger's main target audience IS COPYWRITERS! It was offensive and I tweeted my displeasure with Copyblogger's lack of quality content (which is usually very good!)
Word to the wise: Before you align your brand or your articles with an external website or blog, do your homework first! If you answer YES to the following questions, then the website/content channel is probably an "ethical" content marketing match for your brand:
1. Do you resonate with the articles/content published on the site? Is it a good match for your industry and company brand?
2. Do the writers portray themselves in a professional, respectful way via their content/articles?
3. Is the site well-respected and well-known by fellow colleagues and/or people in your industry?
4. Would you feel comfortable recommending this website as a "trusted" information source? Would you publish this link on your social media channels or pass along to colleagues, clients and friends?
5. Review the comments and feedback from their readers. Do the readers LIKE the articles (check out the social media "like" buttons)? Do writers receive positive comments and is free of "spam" comments?
My mission in 2012 is to be proactive with my content marketing for Zenful Communications...and to continue to align myself with sites and writers/bloggers who resonate with my brand and my professional ethics.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Social Media Explorer named content marketing as one of the top five 2012 social media trends, but hasn't content marketing been around for years?
"Content curation was so last year. In 2012 we’re going broader; we’ll be talking about a marketing discipline called “Content Marketing.” It’s actually not all that new; in fact, some social media pundits have been talking about it for years . But 2012 is the year content marketing hits the social media trends list and the mainstream, because content marketing is now a concept that executives can finally sink their teeth into."
This is a promising trend for small business owners who want to market and sell their services and products, but don't have large budgets. Content marketing doesn't have to be costly. However, one of the biggest mistakes that companies make is they don't have a clear message and they randomly blast inconsistent messages to their social networks.
Do you notice social networks filled with followers and fans that don't even fit with the company's brand? Shot-gun content marketing won't work for 2012. Forget social media updates about what you had for breakfast. 2012 calls for finely-honed, strategic content marketing messages.
Before you even create your content, keep these tips in mind:
1. Who is/are my target market(s)? WHO will resonate with my content? Research your markets and get inside your social media fans' and followers' heads: What do they like? dislike? their age, gender, education, hobbies, geographical location, etc.
2. What key messages do you want to send to target audiences? Brainstorm and develop 1-3 key cohesive messages that set your brand apart.
What do you want to tell your target audience about your brand?
What do you sell & why should they buy your product or use your service?
What sets you apart from other competitive brands on the market?
3. Devise strategic content marketing strategies for social media and internet marketing:
Long-form (blog posts, press releases and articles)
Short form (tweets, LinkedIn and Facebook updates, etc.)
Conversation sharing (commenting on blog posts and videos, and link sharing)
Remember that content marketing is all about building trust with your target markets. You want to engage them in real, authentic ways. Don't use social media as a platform to sell your products 24,7. In 2012, take this marketing and sales tip to heart: it's all about 95% valuable content and 5% sales pitch when it comes to your content marketing
Friday, December 2, 2011
Kindle? Nook? iPad? CNET tackles the pros and cons of the latest and greatest e-book readers. Their article brings up some good points for prospective e-book reader shoppers - just in time for the holidays!
Reader vs. tablet: Do you want more than just reading?
Start by asking yourself what you're really looking for. Do you just want to read books? How about magazines and newspapers? What about browsing the Web? Want to add multimedia to the mix--music, audiobooks, or video? Are you a Netflix junkie? Do you need Flash support? E-mail and messaging? Gaming?
Monday, November 28, 2011
Happy Cyber Monday! It's that time of year again. I did minimal Black Friday shopping, and spent my Friday giving my business locally.
As a Californian, I found this article interesting. This story shows how local Long Beach, Calif. businesses missed the boat by not utilizing social media to compete with national retailers. Ouch!
"According to a National Retail Federation and Shop.org eHoliday survey, while consumers obtain information about retailers’ sales and promotions from various channels, nearly three in 10 (29.2%) will check a company’s Facebook page for more information, and about two-thirds (65.1%) will read customer reviews on the company’s website."
These statistics above tell the social media story. If you are a local business who didn't take advantage of social media marketing on Cyber Monday, it's not too late to implement "buzz marketing" strategies to boost your holiday sales.
Check out these easy Facebook tips to ramp up your social media presence for the holiday season:
- If you don't have a Facebook Business Page, then it's time to create one. Not every business is suitable for Facebook. But if you sell directly to consumers. then you definitely need a Facebook presence.
- Grow your fans organically and strengthen relationships. 'Tis the season so don't slack off on your Facebook fans. If you ask "fans" to like your brand/company, give them something valuable in return - discounts, coupons, etc. Your Facebook Page needs to be a two-way communication street.
- Do NOT use your Facebook Page to SELL products. Don't come across as a spammer. It goes back to building and developing genuine rapport with your fans.
- Install Facebook "Like" buttons on your home page and product sales pages. This is an easy way to draw people back to your Fan Page, and interact with your customers and fans who like your products and services.
- WHO are your target markets? No two customers on your Facebook Page are the same. What do they like? Dislike? What are their purchasing habits? Do they only buy products online based on price or convenience? Review and interact with their comments on your Facebook Page to dig for more information. Get inside the head of your targeted consumers, and figure out social media campaign strategies that will actually appeal to them.
What social media strategies have you implemented to boost your holiday sales? I'd love to know!
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Thanks again to Mike from the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur for including me in the line-up this week. I tackled the question - what are the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make?
"Entrepreneurs Need To Take A Proactive Approach To Marketing
Monday, November 7, 2011
Cyberbullying. Cyberbullying and cyberharassment are sometimes used interchangeably, but for the purposes of this chart, cyberbullying is used for electronic harassment or bullying among minors within a school context. Recent cyberbullying legislation reflects a trend of makaing school districts the policy enforcers of such misconduct. As a result, statutes establish the infrastructure for schools to handle this issue by amending existing school anti-bullying policies to include cyberbullying or electronic harassment among school age children. The majority of these state laws establish sanctions for all forms of cyberbullying on school property, school busses and official school functions. However, some have also extended sanctions to include cyberbullying activities that originate off-campus, believing that activities off-campus can have a chilling and disruptive effect on children's learning environment. The sanctions for cyberbullying range from school/parent interventions to misdemeanors and felonies with detention, suspension, and expulsion in between. Some of these laws promote Internet safety education or curricula that covers cyberbullying."
Thursday, October 27, 2011
I am phobic of the dentist due to bad experiences that involved accidentally biting a dentist's finger. I have a small mouth -- what can I say? For the record, I didn't bite his finger on purpose. He yelled at me and scolded me like a child (he was a JERK and rated a big zero when it came to his bedside manner). As a result, I experience major anxiety when it comes to dental work. Last month, I had a dental exam with a new female dentist and experienced, by far, THE BEST dental care I've experienced in my 39 years.
Before my exam, she and her dental assistant were "briefed" on my anxiety (and throw in my bad gag reflex). During the exam, she was gentle and explained everything she was doing. It had been awhile since I had a dental exam (and cleaning), so they spent extra time with me and would check in periodically and ask how I was feeling. They were terrific and congratulated me on getting through the exam, and told me I did a great job. I was beaming after my exam and breathed a HUGE sigh of relief.
It was the most "anxiety-free" experience I had with a dentist, so I took a few minutes to sit down and write the dentist and her staff a positive review on Yelp. Dental patients have many options out there, and I wanted to share exactly how this dentist put me at ease and wanted to send my thanks to her and the dental assistant who helped me. It's really easy to slam businesses and healthcare professionals, but often times people forget to write a "postive" online review and show their appreciation.
Yesterday I returned to my dentist for a filling, and she thanked me personally for the nice review on Yelp. She sounded surprised I would take the to write a review for their office. The dental assistant told me that my review was the talk of their staff meeting, and the office manager showed the staff my Yelp review. I also personally named the dental assistant who was very patient with me while shoving xray film inside my mouth (as I drooled all over her). That task alone earned her "five stars".
As a solopreneur, I'm responsible for my own healthcare so they earned even extra bonus points with me.They have a special program for patients who don't have dental insurance and I signed up for a very reasonable plan that covers my cleanings and gives me a discounted rate on their other dental services. I couldn't turn down that rate...and now I don't have to worry about my regular cleanings and can stay on top of my dental health.
I was happy that my review made a hard-working dental assistant's day ( a very underappreciated job), and that the dentist knew I appreciated the extra-special care she took with me. In our rushed, hurried world where healthcare professionals push people around like numbers, it was refreshing to experience a POSITIVE dental experience. It only took five minutes out of my day to show my appreciation for a job well done.
Positive online reviews speak volumes, and could really help out a business. Don't be afraid to write a positive review for your favorite doctor or local business - you could really make someone's day (or year, for that matter).
Friday, October 21, 2011
I appreciate Tiffany letting me share her tips with my readers. Remember your clients aren't mind readers. Clear written and verbal communication are a MUST!
Are you "guilty" of treating your customers and clients in the following ways?
- Do you set aside time each day to return client phone calls and emails? Or do you put it off until the end of the week?
- Do you wait two weeks to get your client a quote when you promised to send it to them within a few days?
It only takes ONE negative comment about their customer service experience to mess up your reputation. And who can afford to lose clients (or money) right now?
My favorite tips from Tiffany's newsletter
"How to Catch Them Off Guard...
Do not tell them what you need. Lead them to believe you have all the materials you will need by refusing to send emails or make phone calls. Then just before the deadline, get in touch requesting the information.
How to Lose Them Forever...
Use up any free time they could possibly have with last minute requests and crushing deadlines. Ensure lots of back and forth because you never asked them what they are looking for in your product or service. Give them a final deliverable that you cannot be sure they will appreciate. "
About Tiffany Silverberg
Tiffany Silverberg is a freelance writer with over five years of experience in media and online writing. Tiffany uses her journalistic background to uncover unique angles and untold stories from her clients. She helps them present themselves and their products with freshness and excitement. Although her affair started far earlier, Tiffany formalized her love for words while studying linguistics at the University of California Berkeley. There, she gained critical research skills and trifling word trivia – an impassioned, invaluable combination for anyone who needs their story told.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Whether you are a small business or a self-published author marketing your book, take a page from Naomi Dunford with IttyBiz. Inauthentic email marketing is a big pet peeve, and Naomi hits the internet marketing nail on the head in her latest newsletter.
Naomi has a great sense of humor and love this excerpt from today's newsletter.
Friday, October 7, 2011
This week I interviewed The Glossary's Jeremy Dunning, New Media Coordinator.
The Glossary is a Los Angeles-based company that designs and creates promotional book "video excerpts". Sending BIG THANKS to Jeremy for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. He shares and explains why book videos are the hottest promotion for authors right now.
The Glossary has graciously offered a 10% discount off their services to my blog readers so just contact Jeremy and mention you read his interview on my blog, and he can help you! Contact information: Jeremy Dunning, firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Please explain why video marketing is important to authors and why they should invest in video - especially for self-published authors who don't have an online presence and are starting from scratch?
Video is the most shared form of media on the internet and to understand its success, you need only look at how YouTube has become such a successful brand in just a few short years. People like to watch videos, and more importantly, they like to share them.
Not only is video an effective way to entice prospective readers, it’s also the most social-media-friendly form of marketing available. By using video, instead of just a text synopsis or blurb, you’re greatly increasing your chances that your book’s video will be shared with the people they know. In order to encourage readers to spread the word about your book, they need a form of media worth sharing.
Even starting from scratch, a great video can serve as the foundation of a successful web presence. It’s the hook, the thing that’s going to get people to look for you elsewhere and hopefully buy your book.
2. What are some of the innovative ways authors can use book videos as part of their internet marketing campaigns?
Your typical online distribution campaign is generally based around sharing the video on sites like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and hopefully catching the attention of lit-savvy blogs. But with each of these distribution channels, you’re competing not only with other book videos, but movie trailers, home videos, and funny cats.
In addition to sharing on traditional platforms, creating a unique home for your video is a great way to set yourself apart. By giving each video it’s own website and URL, it becomes a destination that is easily shared with friends, family, and prospective readers without having to share its space with other content competing for the viewer’s attention. From these “splash pages” readers can view and share your video as well as find links to where your book is sold online.
But whatever you do, our advice would be to get creative! Think outside the box of where your video can live on the web and how this can help turn viewers into buyers.
3. A lot of companies throw around the word "book trailers" but I noticed you don't use this terminology affiliated with the services your company offers.
We believe that one of the biggest problems with video book marketing is that it rarely celebrates what it’s actually selling--the written word. The Glossary was created largely due to our belief that the publishing industry suffers from a pretty serious identity crisis when it comes to marketing. Trailers are a fundamentally cinematic device. But books aren’t movies, so why are we marketing them as such?
Even when an author or publisher can spend the money on one of these expensive Hollywood-style trailers, they too often ring false. Why? Because they’re not selling you the experience of reading a book, they’re selling you the experience of seeing a movie version of that book.
We wanted to use video to promote books for what they are--books! To that end, we prefer to focus on the author’s own words to create what we call a “video excerpt” which is brought to life using interesting visuals and sound design.
This way, the author gets all the marketing benefits of using video, while still staying true to what they do best--the written word.
4. What advice would you give to authors who are just starting out with their internet marketing?
The internet is a wonderful tool for empowering the individual. With a little technical know-how and a lot of hard work, you can successfully publish your book without the help of a traditional publisher, marketing company, or agent. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
If you don’t have a strong knowledge base in a particular area--be it social media or creating a video--seek out some help. You can have the next great American novel, but without proper marketing, nobody is ever going to hear about it. Handle the parts of the process you know and are passionate about and leave the parts you don’t know, or dislike doing, to a professional.
5. Do you think we'll see a bigger trend with bestselling authors and book videos in 2012 or is the trend already happening? Are the traditional publishers using book videos more as part of their promotions? Your thoughts?
You can definitely see it trending more and more towards video. Already, its hard to find a major Young Adult release that doesn’t have a video behind it. But the real question is, will the quality of the video content be able to stand up to the quality of the writing? So far, this hasn’t been the case, but we’re definitely optimistic for the future.
Monday, October 3, 2011
I know it's tough to market your book these days. With all the marketing tools out there for authors, it can get overwhelming.
This morning I received a query through my LinkedIn for an ebook. Since I market authors, I assumed it was an author inquiring about marketing assistance. After I opened the email, I noticed the author had included a "free copy" of his ebook and asked me to read his book and pass along to my friends and colleagues. I did not know this person and I didn't know anything about his work or his book (despite the fact that he has 600 plus connections on LinkedIn, that doesn't mean anything to me).
Spam is a HUGE pet peeve so it's important to understand what NOT do when you use email to market your book. This also applies to any product or service and not just books.
1. Do NOT solicit or sell your book to someone you don't know or has not subscribed to your email list. That's just common courtesy and you want to grow your email list and not lose subscribers.
2. Offer your email subscribers valuable content, articles, and free reports/downloads. How can you help people and offer assistance? Email marketing is not about pitching your book 24,7. It's about making real connections with people. Think of your sales funnel. Only about five to ten percent of website visitors will actually buy the first time they visit your website. You need to provide them with valuable information so they'll stay interested in you, as the author, and your book.
3. Do NOT give away your entire book away via email. Many people think this is an effective sales tactic and will generate more interest and will make the book go viral faster. If your book sales aren't a priority and you want to use the book to market your business (specifically non-fiction authors), then you can go that route but that's an entirely different marketing campaign altogether. However, if you are a fiction writer and book sales are your number one goal, provide only a sample chapter of your book. You want to generate interest with your sample chapter - just enough to entice the reader to want to buy your book. Why would someone want to purchase your book when they just read it for free?
4. Include videos in your email marketing campaigns. Viral video is hot for book authors. If you want to try a visual marketing tactic, create a book trailer video (stay tuned - I will be posting an interview soon about the importance of book videos). You can also take on the persona of your character in your video and talk about the book through the eyes of your character. You don't need to spend a lot of money either. Use your webcam or digital camera. The video only needs to be a few minutes long, and it also puts your face in front of your audience.
5. Be consistent with your newsletters. If you start an e-newsletter, make sure you send them out on a regular basis so you stay in touch with your subscribers. If you only send out emails every few months, then people won't take you as seriously and they will probably lose interest in your book. With the hundreds of thousands of book choices people have out there, it's very easy to lose people's attention. Your newsletter doesn't have to be long but be consistent - if you send out emails monthly then keep up with that schedule! Automate your newsletters through your CRM software, and implement an editorial calendar to help you stay on track.
If you are a newbie book marketer, take these tips into account before you blast out emails to your email subscribers. You don't want to see people opting-out left and right -- not a good sign!
Friday, September 30, 2011
For Twilight fans, there is huge online buzz circulating around their next movie. This is an example of an innovative digital campaign centered around the next Twilight movie, Dawn's Light.
I love this campaign idea - VERY clever!
"The email was a "wedding invitation" for characters Isabella Marie Swan (Bella Swan) and Edward Anthony Masen Cullen, sent exclusively to Fandango's previous "Twilight" ticket buyers. Fandango says the unusual email promotion was to promote its advance ticket sales, timed to the fictional birthday of Bella Swan." (Source: www.mediapost.com)
If you are a fiction writer, implement similar marketing ideas. Take on the persona of your characters AND take it beyond email marketing campaigns.
- Blog from the perspective of your characters. Get inside the head of your characters: is there a special message or information you could pass along in your character's 'voice'?
- Hire an actor to do a voice-over or shoot a book trailer with your character(s) as the stars.
- Use creativity and humor to your advantage - entertain and educate!
Even if you aren't a Twilight fan, you can take a few pages from their marketing campaigns - innovative and creative!
Monday, September 26, 2011
When I experience bad customer service from companies, I try to learn from the experience and ask myself: how can I better serve MY clients? It is also a good reminder for me that I wouldn't be in business if it weren't for my loyal clients.
I find it disappointing that large corporations such as Toyota and Alaska Air have forgotten the basics of their customer service. Despite the fact that I shared my unpleasant experiences with their company on their social media, the buck stopped there. Alaska Air sent me a canned email response but it was a sad attempt to make up for the bad customer service I received. You would think they would bend over backwards to keep me as a customer since these companies have to be extra competitive these days. Few people are buying new cars in this economy, and people can choose Alaska's competition.
It's one thing to respond to customer complaints on social media, but companies need to take it one step further to ensure that their customers walk away satisfied and happy. My suggestion to these corporations such as Toyota and Alaska: take your customer service offline and return to the basics.
Have I heard from Toyota since I received their canned "we are sending your complaint to our upper management" response on their social media? No. Have I received a letter directly from Toyota apologizing for the fact the dealer almost ruined my car because they installed the wrong recall part in my car? No. Have I received an apology letter from the local dealer where this happened or was I offered a complimentary oil change from the dealer to make up for what happened? No. If I had received an apology letter or even an offer of a free oil change, I would have a lot more respect for Toyota's commitment to their customers.
Think about this stat and how an unhappy customer could negatively affect your business AND your bottom line:
According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs in Washington, DC, a dissatisfied consumer will tell between 9 and 15 people about their experience. About 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people.
In this tenuous economy, companies cannot afford to lose customers due to negative experiences. As much as I tout the benefits of social media and online reputation management, remember to connect with your customers BEYOND social media. Treat your customers like real human beings and not just a number floating around the cyber ethers! And pick up the phone once in awhile to connect directly with your customers and clients. It's nice to hear a real, live voice -- make sure your customers know that you care!
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Is it your iPhone? Your laptop? You iPad? Check out the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (I weigh in - Tip #23). As much as I love technology, I sometimes just need to take a hiatus - "tune out" and turn off my Crackberry and laptop and get away from it all.
As much as my Blackberry and laptop makes life (and running my business) much EASIER, there are days when it's both a blessing and a curse. I've caught myself getting into that "texting while waiting in line at Starbucks" mode and I have to stop myself. Sometimes it's good to tuck away your phone, smile at another human being and just "smell the roses"!
What are your thoughts? What is the ONE gadget you can't live without in your business? How has technology made your business more efficient?
Thursday, September 8, 2011
I had one of THOSE weeks...Murphy's Law moments and I think the Universe is testing me. But despite the glitches and bad customer service craziness (stay tuned for that blog update!), I received a nice surprise from inspirational writer and author, Randy Mitchell. I've helped Randy launch and market his first novel, Sons In The Clouds.
Randy shared one of my book marketing articles on his blog. Randy is a great example of a self-published author who has taken social media by storm. His ebook was nominated for the Global eBooks Award for Best Inspirational Fiction.
I encourage you to check out Randy's book which is available on Amazon, Kindle, iBooks and Sony.
Thanks so much for the shout out, Randy!
PS - What did you WISH you knew before you started your business? I was featured on Carol Roth's blog (tip #12). Great tips on there by other small business owners and entrepreneurs!
Monday, September 5, 2011
Domestic violence against women is a cause near and dear to my heart. I had the privilege of working a stint with the CA Partnership to End Domestic Violence and heard Robin Givens speak about her personal domestic violence nightmare when she was married to Mike Tyson.
I was infuriated when I read this blog post by Naomi Dunford, successful entrepreneur of IttyBiz. As a female entrepreneur and blogger, the power and strength behind her words really hit home with me. I'm a big fan of Naomi's blog and love her sassy energy. Her blogging style may not be everyone's cup of tea, but NO ONE has the right to threaten death against another human being based on what Naomi writes. Death threats equal hate crime, and should never be taken lightly. Whether you are man, woman, or child, NO one has the right to make you feel unsafe online and this is a form of "online terrorism". I definitely won't sit back and allow my voice (or my fellow female writers' voices) to be stifled.
I encourage you to take a stand today and spread this message along with me and Naomi. We will NOT tolerate violence against women - in any way, shape or form! As women (and men who love and support women), we must stand together and fight.
"What you can do:
WE know we can never be silenced. Now it’s time to show THEM.As a writer, I allowed my voice to be stifled far too many years. I even had an ex-boyfriend who told me I would never make it as a writer (as a copywriter, I proved him wrong!)
I dedicate my blog post today to Naomi Dunford and ALL female bloggers, writers and creative kindred spirits. I also dedicate to women who have first-hand experienced violence against them, and who have triumphed. Don't EVER let anyone threaten, intimidate or scare you into NOT expressing and sharing who you truly are.
To the cowardly hate mongers: you will NEVER silence our collective female voice and we will not tolerate your violent threats against us.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Aloha! I am back on the grid after spending an amazing week in Paradise (aka Maui). My vacation was much-needed, and am feeling refreshed and relaxed.
While I was away, I was included again on The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (Tip #105). Mike features smart marketing tips for businesses on a limited budget. I share why it's important to invest in a professional copywriter. I have seen first-hand what happens when people try to wing it with their web copy, and it is NOT a pretty sight.
Great marketing tips on Mike's blog! Hope you'll check it out, and I welcome you to add your personal marketing tips and feedback.
Monday, August 22, 2011
I am taking off for sun and fun and will be in Maui on a much-needed holiday this week.
In the meantime, check out my interview series with bestselling author Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff - he is the first author to publish a book about Osama Bin Laden and his books have topped Amazon's Bestsellers' Lists!
Aloha - I'll see you in a week!
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Bestselling Author Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff Shares Why His Brand Stands Out & Discusses Upcoming Book "Shadow Falls: Angel of Death"
How do you market your books and your Wordsushi.com/MYN brand? Your brand is raw, quirky and edgy and you definitely are not a 'cookie-cutter' horror/thriller writer.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
After working as a music composer for television, what drew you to write about such grisly topics – your titles alone sound gruesome: “Killing My Boss” and “Diary of A Madman”? Why did you explore these particular topics?
I wanted to be a writer and I worked as a commercial writer throughout the years. I was always drawn to Stephen King – the grisly, sci-fi type books – and it was in my creative DNA. When I became a 'writer' writer, the horror, darkness and weird stuff just naturally flowed out of my fingertips. When I started my podcast “Pacific Coast Hellway” in my car, I pushed the boundaries of the First Amendment and it was like ‘hmmm, what can I get away with?’ My podcast JUST exploded and became very successful. I was driving in my car screaming into my phone all kinds of crazy stuff. It turned into a full-time gig on Sirius radio five nights a week.
I learned that when I stopped filtering myself – if I just let myself express my crazy, dark evil thoughts – I could actually connect with people. That taught me a big lesson: when I do something MY way, opportunities just come up and turn into a full-time job. I continued to follow this pattern with my writing and books. It always fails some way if I don’t do it my own way and let it loose. If you are an artist – let it happen without letting it happen. Take a process, create and don’t worry about it. I stopped shielding that I have a dark and twisted personality – that’s who I am. I am not ‘Mr. Skittles and Sunshine’. “Diary of A Madman was a foray into extremely twisted fiction with graphic, violent scenes. I got bold and started to podcast my own stories – a serialized novel for “Diary”. I quickly found out there is a huge audience for the really twisted and dark stuff.
For self-published authors who don’t know where to start with their self-publishing journey (especially with ebooks), what are the biggest lessons you have learned? What sage advice do you have to pass along to newbies?
Writing and publishing is my full-time gig. It helped me a lot that I have a footprint online. Google is your best friend. You need to have a presence online; it lends more substance and significance and people will take a chance on you. It’s one thing to ask your friends and family to buy your book – the people who know you as that goofball who they don't take seriously. Only five percent of your friends and family will pony up and actually buy your book; everyone else will wait to jump on the bandwagon. Brand yourself! The stronger your brand, the more people who don’t know you will take a chance on you. It is one thing to get people to click on your link, but it’s another thing for them to get out their wallet and spend money.
Appeal to people who have interest in your subject matter. I never promoted my nonfiction. I used Google Adwords because I got a coupon. I can’t even tell you how many books I sold that way. All the proper online resources – social media, blog etc. - need to inspire and be worth glancing at. Offer FREE content. The content MUST catch their eye in order to cross your threshold.
It’s REALLY important to remember that every ebook you publish is a long-tail business. With an indie publisher, it’s a long tail philosophy – it’s all about planting a seed. My book “Latte” was a total goof for me. I got a call from Access Hollywood after Lindsay Lohan assaulted her assistant and they asked me to come on the show and talk about Hollywood assistants. This happened in 2008. That afternoon I was in Burbank doing the show, and they showed the cover of my book during the story. As a result, I did a podcast and told some stories related to “Latte”, but I stopped doing it. I didn’t want to be known as “that” guy who wrote a book about Hollywood assistants. I hate being pigeon holed.
The book came out in paperback in 2007. The first year it was out I made “beer money” off the book. I totally forgot about it and wasn’t focused on it. For two years, I didn’t look at my sales statements. In March of this year, I opened up the statements and it jumped from beer money to “car payment” money. What happened??!! I realized that the book had started selling copies. How did it go from nothing to making THAT KIND of MONEY?!! I dug around and found out that when the Kindle 3 came out, there was a huge explosion in sales that coincided with Kindle apps for mobile devices: the more devices, the more people bought ebooks. It ramped up, and now “Latte” is making significant money. It now has jumped to making “mortgage payment” money. It helps that it’s on Amazon’s bestselling list, and has been consistently number one in the subcategory TV/Entertainment. I notice that it jumps up during weekends and sells more copies. On an average weekday, it sells between 100 to150 copies.
My best advice is not to be discouraged – wait a year from now. I don’t worry about doing a big big marketing blitz for a few months. I’ll wait and let my book get picked up by search engines. My sales have grown ridiculously – 100s to 1000s books a month. But lot of factors came into play. I’ve had a presence online for awhile. I have worked full-time as an indie media creator and artist. Since 2005, I have put stuff out there on the internet and it’s grown. I don't have nearly the reputation like other authors out there, but I still have a good reputation and following. I have completed dozens of different projects—all kinds of crazy stuff. I do it different than others. I created a petri dish and experimented, and received valuable feedback as a result. Your success depends on how hard you want to work and where you focus your time and energy.
Stay tuned for Part 3 on Friday - the last post in my interview series with Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff. Find out what's on the horizon for Mark and his "Angel of Death Chronicles" series!
Monday, August 15, 2011
Bestselling Author Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff Shares Success Behind His Book "The Killing of Osama Bin Laden"
I dusted off my journalist's hat last week and interviewed bestselling, award-winning author Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff. I appreciate Mark taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with me about the method to his writing 'madness'. Literally - all puns intended. Mark writes dark, edgy horror thrillers including: "Diary of a Madman" and "Killing My Boss" (just to name a few!)
Mark made a living writing music for television before opportunity knocked and transformed him into a screen/TV writer and later an award-winning and bestselling author featured on “Access Hollywood.” A podcast he recorded in his car turned into a drive-time radio show on Sirius five nights a week. This led to a handsome feature in Playboy Magazine that compared Mark to Howard Stern and Jon Stewart. Mark later created an internet video series that led to him being cast as the on-screen host of TV’s “The MoShow”, a nationally syndicated newsmagazine about smartphones and mobile entertainment.
His book The Killing of Osama Bin Laden, released less than a week after U.S. Navy SEALs killed the Al Qaeda leader, has become a fixture on several Amazon bestseller lists, including the non-fiction top 100 for all books.
Your book “The Killing of Osama Bin Laden” took Amazon by storm. You are THE FIRST author to write a book about the killing of Bin Laden. Where did you get the idea to write this book AND how did you crank it out so fast?
Mark: I was stunned by the news. It was mind-blowing and it was one of those moments that shatter your psyche. The news that we had got “the guy” – it just struck a chord in me and I was consumed by the news. I am a news JUNKIE! I grew up in a newsroom so news is in my blood. The morning after Bin Laden was killed I was searching furiously and reading bits and pieces everywhere about how they got him. It was a Hollywood blockbuster story that was all true. I saw how all the narrative fell together; it really was a perfect story.
I am a ridiculously prolific writer. I can can write an enormous amount of content in a short amount of time. I became addicted to the process, and I put it together in four days days and worked ten to twelve hours to crank it out . I made phone calls and read everything I could get my hands on. It became apparent that I was going to be the first guy to put out a book about the killing of Bin Laden. As a result, I became enamored by the idea. Wow, I could REALLY be the first person to do it. This would be something very different for me, but not too far off from my brand.
I didn’t have big expectations for the book. I published it within a week and it exploded! During that first weekend, it hit the nonfiction top 100 list. It spent 72 days on the Amazon History bestseller list and hit that list the first week it was published. I also hit my Kindle-only subcategory list for Middle East history in the first 24 hours. Now two months later, the book continues to do well and has been steady on Amazon’s nonfiction top 100 list.
The biggest surprise from this book was my comic book project. I was contacted by the CEO of an animation company just five days after the book was published. As a result, I negotiated a comic book series, SEAL TEAM X. Think “Men in Black” meets aliens with a sci-fi twist. The series will be launching in the upcoming months.
The best advice I’ve received since writing and publishing books is from a good friend who puts out an indie label in New York City. He told me the best way to sell your back catalog is by putting out new content. It was great advice that I’ve taken to heart – it’s helped me expand my horizons and readership.
Mark’s “The Killing of Osama Bin Laden” book is proof of that sage advice!
Stay tuned for Part Two this week. Learn more inside tips and tricks from Mark – how to effectively market and put your best face forward when it comes to your online brand.
For more information about Mark Yashimoto Nemcoff and his books, please visit http://wordsushi.com/ or his Facebook page. Mark is currently offering a FREE download of “Shadow Falls: Badland” on iBooks to kick off the next in his series of the dark horror thriller, “Shadow Falls: Angel of Death.”
Monday, August 8, 2011
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I am fairly certain that your idea isn't new and there is probably an eBook out there already with a similar topic. It doesn't make sense to just sit down and write your book without first conducting market research: WHO will read your book and does your book topic have marketing potential?
Here are ten FREE market research resources I suggest using:
1. Use search engines - search for keywords that pertain to your topic and look at page rank popularity based on the topic and/or book title.
2. Check out your competition - What eBooks are selling? Is your genre/topic far too popular? Not popular enough?
3. Take advantage of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Industry Digital Publishing Forumwhen researching target markets and their demographics.
4. Who's following who on social media? Connect with fellow eBook writers on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. How many followers do they have? Is their topic a big seller? What strategies do they use or don't use on their social media?
5. Read industry-specific articles. It's important to stay on top of late-breaking news in the publishing industry, and eBooks are a HOT topic right now. Check out http://www.teleread.com/
6. Join forums and discussion groups, and find out what eBook readers want and don't want. LinkedIn has eBook and digital publishing groups so don't forget to check them out.
7. Don't forget to check out Kindle and eBook sales stats. What books and genres sell? What are the most popular (and most sold) eBooks on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Sony?
8. Conduct a poll or survey on your social media networks, website or blog. Go directly to the source, and ask your followers/fans what topics interest them.
9. Don't forget international markets. If you want to target people outside of your country, make sure your book topic appeals to an international demographic. Do you speak another language? Could you translate your book into another language? Check out customs and cultures. Not all eBook topics are a good fit for an international audience.
10. Don't limit yourself to just online resources. Visit local bookstores and check out what's selling. What's popular today could be a passing fancy by next month. Stay on top of the latest trends and fads. Vampires may be yesterday's news by the holidays - you never know!
Before you start writing, research first. The topic you choose may not be the best eBook topic, and why waste your valuable time writing an eBook that doesn't have marketing or sales potential? If you want to write an eBook to further promote yourself and give it away as a freebie, that's an excellent way to draw attention to your brand and bring in new clientele. Just remember to research your topic first!
Thursday, August 4, 2011
As a copywriter and marketer, I support my fellow colleagues in their sales endeavors. We all have to make a living and support our businesses. But there is always that one email that leaves me shaking my head.
Yesterday I received an email from a professional copywriter and marketer. First, I have never heard of this guy. I possibly could have opted-in to his list months ago, but this is the first correspondence I received from him.
What was the big turn-off? I can sum it up in one word - ego. He reeled me in with "So can I ask your opinion?" Sure, I'll give you my opinion. However, I stopped reading after the first paragraph. The email was all about HIM and how he's made millions of dollars for his clients. I scanned the length of the email, and it was at least five pages (possibly more). In the first paragraph, he made excuses as to why he hadn't sent emails lately. He was just too busy to bother with us lowly people, because he was too busy making other "cool" people rich. Yeah, that will win a lot of people over to your side with that kind of bragadocious tone.
Not only was the sales pitch riddled with his ego, but it was poorly written. He calls himself a copywriter and professional marketer, and claims he knows the biggies like Michael Masterson and Clayton Makepeace.
His email turned me off, and I definitely did not want to find out more about his marketing course he was trying to sell. He lost me at hello! After my experience with this email sales pitch, it made me realize (once again) that we only have a few split seconds to make a good impression.
In email campaigns that involve sales pitches, I suggest you avoid the following:
1. Don't turn your email into a "brag book." Testimonials from clients are great, but I didn't see one testimonial in his email. I would have been more impressed if he had actual testimonials from his million-dollar clients -- instead of him bragging up and down about how he's been so busy with these clients.
2. Offer to HELP people and be genuine! Did he offer me a free report on how I could make more money? No. Did he offer me a free consultation to discuss my marketing goals? No.
3. Do NOT write dissertation-length emails. Who has time to read ten pages worth of copy? My head was swimming as I scrolled down his email. Far too much copy for one email!
4. Break up key points by using bullet points, boxes, or different colors/fonts.
5. Use a CLEAR Call to Action. I scrolled to the end of his email, and I couldn't find a succinct Call to Action, Did he just want my opinion or did he want me to buy his course? Or both? I was lost in his jumble of words, and I couldn't pinpoint a clear message -- what the heck did he want me to do?
As a result, I unsubscribed from his email list, and I sent him constructive comments as to why I unsubscribed. Maybe he'll take my comments to heart and realize he needs to dial back his ego (or maybe not).
Bravado and rambling, confusing sales pitches just won't cut it anymore. People can smell a fake a mile away, and based on his email tone alone I wouldn't spend my hard-earned money on his course. He didn't give me a good enough reason to invest in him or the course he's offering. I'm not downplaying his expertise. He could be the best marketer in the world, but how would I know that based on his rambling, all-about-me email?