Blog World Expo is Great Place to Learn & Network

Just when you think you have your business all figured out, you attned a conference only to discover you’re really uncool and not as knowledgeable as you thought!  This was me at Blog World in Las Vegas last week.  If I hadn’t had my MacBook I’d have felt like a total loser!  I really enjoyed meeting the many people I follow and read regularly, plus the dozens who were new to me.  What a great group of smart, friendly people.

The event was fantastic, filled with panel discussions, workshops and keynotes by the thought leaders in our industry and I left with a ton of notes and a commitment to be more connected for my clients and me.  Today I find myself scouring through my notes and starting to outline my plan of attack.

In the event you’re doing the same, here’s a post I found today that I found very helpful in my follow up to Blog World.

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Reflections of a Leaping Entrepreneur

Seven years ago this week, I took a leap of faith and quit my cushy job at the House of Blues.  I was the head of  strategic marketing for the venues which at the time included eight clubs and over 20 concert arenas.  It was a great job and I enjoyed working there for several years surrounded by some amazing people with whom I still remain close to today.   Most people would not have walked away as I did. After all, I had survived three rounds of layoffs since the great dot-com bust of 2000.  But while most people saw demise of an industry, I saw opportunity.  Many of my colleagues were being laid off yet most companies still had the same work that had to be done and outsourcing was becoming very widespread. So why not outsource that to me?

Together with a recently laid off HOB colleague, we started our own marketing consulting company. The funny thing was every time we met with a client, they were confusing marketing with P.R. (at the time, P.R. was still very much about media outreach and begging for coverage.) So we decided we would be a P.R. company, why not?

By 2005 my partner and I had broken off into my own small companies, each concentrating our better strengths.  It has been an amazing ride, I must say.  In the beginning I was so scared, yet it was always a great scared.  I felt empowered even when I was broke.  With no steady paycheck I have depended on my clients paying me in a timely fashion, which sometimes is not so timely.  I have had several holidays with no cash (clients tend to hold off on payments around that time of the year) but it’s never been so bad I felt like giving up.

I have been reflecting all this week as it’s my anniversary and I am so proud of what I’ve accomplished. A good friend asked me over lunch last week what surprised me most about this journey and I listed these:

  • The fact that I am actually good at this
  • That I am doing it alone without a partner
  • The list of things I still want to conquer (such as speaking, writing, etc.)
  • How much fun I am having, still

Have you taken a leap of faith? What has surprised you about your journey?

To Get Customers, you Need to Get “It”

I had another one of those “social media” conversations today with a friend, you know the one…why don’t  people get that they should be using social media to grow their business?  As a practitioner, I am constantly trying to help a potential client to understand the power of the people, I actually try to shy away from calling it social media, to me its all marketing.  Some will just never get it.  Some want to but struggle.  Some will only do it if you show them how it makes the register ring.  Some clients get it extremely well and are enjoying tremendous success because of it! We love them (see Amy’s blog.)

It got me thinking about this.  The client who wants a big article in a glossy mag or to be on Oprah (for the latter, you’d better rescue a small nation) wants to be on those platforms because they believe that’s where the majority of their customers will be and they want the biggest bang they can get.  Interestingly enough, there’s a little thing called the Internet and your customers just happen to be there, a lot, every day, even the days Oprah is not broadcast.

So, why not concentrate on the things you can control, which is not the glossy or Oprah, and create reasons for your customers to find you?  You call it corn, we call it content!

I love content!  I am one of those dorky creative types who loves to create…well, anything!  When someone needs to name their business, car, child or whatever, I love to help them figure one out!  So with my over active brain and my Flip video, I now get to make content for my clients.  Fun for me, great for the clients.  We are no longer begging for attention, we are creating it ourselves, authentically, with the right messaging.  They are not all winners, but they are all search results!

My advice to anyone seeking publicity is to never poo poo a small publication that is not in your geographic area, because they are most likely online and that is your geographic area.  Feedback that praises your company, no matter where they live, is helpful to someone who may be seeking out a service or product like yours.  Using feedback from your current, happy customers, you can create videos, articles, how-tos, haikus – anything that will appeal to new customers.  Go for it all, something will appeal to someone and if you do it right, they’ll share it with everyone!

The Business of Being Creative

Just discovered this blog, thanks to my fab client, Amy Child Marella of The Hidden Garden. If you are super Right Brain like me, then you will enjoy this blog. Sean Low is an expert who helps creative types run their businesses bettre (that is sooo me!)

Check out The Business of Being Creative, subscribe and let me know what you think.

Not My Father the Car Salesman

My father was a car salesman when I was a little girl and I grew up wanting each and every model he drove home, saying “when I am 16 I totally want this car!” When I became 16, my dad was a used car wholesaler, who employed all my newly licensed friends during summers to literally drive cars around LA and Orange Counties. It was a bit sleazy but we didn’t care, we were driving for cash money!

I want to share a great story about a stand-up guy at my Volkswagen dealership. I am currently leasing my 2nd Beetle convertible and have about 8 months left on my lease, but of course I would love a new upgrade! So after I received an e-newsletter from my dealership about their loyalty programs for current owners/lessees, I email my guy, he said I could use the big incentives toward my down and he suggested I come in…so hello of course I went that night. I explained I wanted the same payment, with no money down and he went to work w/ the finance guy. After about 15 minutes, he returned and said, sorry but if we do this now you’ll be upside down, come back in about 4 months and I am sure we can make it happen. What? No hard sell to give you a huge down payment? I was a little bummed about not driving my new white Beetle home, but thrilled to know that in no time I would be (on my terms.) Not sure if my guy is an exception, or if having 3 leases from one dealership is a huge bonus, but either way, I know where I am getting my next car. That is great service, going on 5 years, and I am not only a loyal customer, I am now an advocate. If you want to contact my sales guy, email me.

Why we Can’t Work for You

Got a voice mail a few weeks ago from a company looking for P.R. I checked out their site and products and noticed they were trying to do blogging, they hadn’t totally nailed it, but I was happy they were trying. Saw they already posted a press release for the product he was launching and was seeking P.R. for, but okay I can work with that too.

When we talked he told me how they wanted to be in this print pub and that trade mag, argh I’m thinking, so I bring up online media and social media and how it’s really all the same now. He explains to me that they have the online stuff nailed (what?) and they really just want print. Plus, research proves that only 40% of their target customers are online. This blew me away. Why would you NOT want to reach 40% of your target? I very politely explained we were not the best P.R. company for what they were looking for, he was very polite too. Before we hung up, I asked him how he’d found us…to which he replied, “your website.” Touche.