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With the rapid changes that take place in the marketing world, it’s easy to become bewildered by all of the options for promoting ourselves and our business. Almost every day, there’s some amazing new social media platform taking the world by storm and old forms of communication fade from significance.

However, from the day woman first drew on the cave wall, the basics of succeeding have not really changed.  We all do business with those we know, like and trust.  As individual business women, we have the opportunity to reach out and connect with peers, colleagues and potential clients to create profitable relationships that move us all toward our goals.

Whether you are successful women climbing the corporate ladder or an enthusiastic entrepreneur out to revolutionize your industry, here are five activities that will connect you with the people who need your knowledge, skill and expertise.

1)      Grab the microphone:  booking speaking engagements to showcase your expertise.  From the local Rotary to TED talks to professional organizations, getting in front of an audience is the leading way to enlarge your circle of influence.

2)      Blow your own horn:  seek out awards and nominate yourself.  Even if you don’t win the award, the nomination itself has benefits.

3)      Connect with influencers:  on and offline, identify and connect with other experts.  LinkedIn is the ideal way to start researching and connecting with leaders and influencers in your industry.  It’s also an excellent way to follow up and deepen connections with influencers you make a conferences and networking events.

4)      Write a book: you will automatically be recognized as a thought leader.  There’s really no better way to move your career forward.

5)      Spread the word:  submit Press Releases about your speaking, nominations, awards and your book.

Moving out on the stage will open doors for you in ways you never imagined.  Every day I hear stories from successful women who are living lives beyond their wildest imagination because they took that first step out of their comfort zone.

Wow, we are already starting the second week of 2014.  So you don’t have a market plan yet?

Marketing Puzzle

Marketing Puzzle

Don’t panic.  If you can set aside a few minutes and follow this outline, you will have a simple marketing plan to keep you on track toward your goals.  I started using this simple outline when I was in sales, and have found it works really well for me as a business owner as well.  After all, every businesses owner is in sales, right?

 

1)      Start by writing a sentence that summarizes three major accomplishments to achieve during the coming year.  Here’s an example:  In 2014, I will generate $120,000 in income, earn an additional professional designation and be interviewed on CNN.

2)      For each of these goals, work backwards to define the step you will take to reach those goals.  If earning a professional designation is part of you plan, list the classes you will need to complete or the hours of study:  To earn my SEO Certification, I will review the course material, complete all of the worksheets and take the exam by March.  For sales goals, think in terms of actions rather than outcomes.  Instead of saying, I will book five new clients per month, define the activity.  I will contact five existing clients per week to ask for a referral.  When you have made the five contacts, you have succeeded.  A consistent effort will yield results over time.

3)      Set up milestones of achievement for each of the goals and schedule a check-in to measure your progress.  If needed, you can re-evaluate your plan based on results.  Do more of the activities that are yielding results, and rethink those that are not.  A word of caution:  be sure you give a tactic adequate time to produce results.

4)      Estimate the budget you will need for each activity.  Remember that even “free” marketing tools have some costs associated with them, in addition to the investment of time.

5)      Transfer the activities to your calendar, keeping in mind your own personal preferences and work styles.  Some activities like networking events and client meetings will have specific times.  For activities you can control, consider where and when you will be most productive.

Remember that the plan is a work in progress.  Once you have a basic outline, you can start to implement and adjust.  Don’t let crafting the plan be an excuse for inaction or analysis paralysis.

So, now you have an outline for a quick easy, marketing plan.  It’s possible to start with this simple outline and drill down as many levels as you would like.

Through the years that I have used this plan, I have found that it’s actually a time management tool, too.  Evaluating possible activities against stated goals keeps me on track.

Sometimes, you have to laugh!  I was sitting at my desk, getting ready to write this blog post, and an email just whizzed past me on its way to my inbox.

People love to share about great products and services.

People love to share about great products and services.

It’s announcing an upcoming webcast for the American Marketing Association. The Topic:  Referral Marketing.  Seems it’s a hot new trend for 2014!

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m planning to register and attend.  I’ve been a member of the American Marketing Association for years, and find them a valuable source of training and thought leadership.

What made me laugh is that getting business by referral isn’t a hot new trend – it’s the always been best way to grow your business.

In fact, for the small and medium size business with a limited marketing budget, it’s the only way to grow your business.  I’m a huge believer in business by referral. In fact, I was a BNI Director for several years.  I’ve trained hundreds of small business owners in the BNI system of gaining business by referral.  Before becoming a Director, I was a member, and used the system to get business for my own business.

I think the big agencies and big brands are beginning to catch on to business by referral because of Social Media.  A few years back, when Social Media was just beginning to gain traction, I went to an American Marketing Association luncheon about just this topic.  Several large consumer brands were on the panel, discussing how their customers were seeking recommendations for a variety of products on social media platforms and how to take advantage of this new opportunity.

Big brands are now discovering what small businesses have always known about the importance of having satisfied customers spread the word about their brand.  It’s nothing new, really.  We are social creatures.  Since humans have been buying and selling goods to each other, we’ve been discussing, comparing and suggest products among ourselves.  Now, we can go online and amplify our message on FaceBook, Twitter, Google+, Yelp and hundreds of sites, forum, platforms and email lists.

It’s a two-edged sword, sometimes, because angry customers will spread the word, usually with much more passion.

What brings huge success with word of mouth and referral marketing is having a powerful story about your brand.  It’s not enough to have great food, or great customer service.  You have to have something about your product, service or mission so compelling that others spread the word.

Do you have favorite brand? What’s the story?

I love alliteration!  When all else fails, it gets my creative juices flowing.

It’s Tuesday, I need a topic idea, so what starts with “T?”  Hence, Technology Tuesday!

Seriously, I enjoy learning about technology and sharing my successes with it.  Also, I’m not afraid to admit my failures, so I hope letting you follow along with my technology journey helps you in yours.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m making daily changes to my blog.  I’ve been thinking about the features I want to include, and experimenting with plugins and widgets to add the functionality I’m looking for.

Since the social media that I’ve used most frequently heretofore is Twitter, the first feature I decided to add is a Twitter feed.  If you actively tweet, then adding your Twitter Feed to your blog is an automatic way to show some activity.  Particularly when you are just building your Blog, it’s important to get something going on.

First, I searched on the Plugin page at WordPress.org for “Twitter Feed.”   I skipped the first one of the list because it has a three star rating and a disclaimer that it hasn’t been updated since January 2010.  Chances are there would be no customer support.

I usually look for plugins that have a good number of downloads, a good rating and appear to be designed for ease of use.  I decide on Kebo, which has over 40,000 downloads, a four star rating and good comments from users.

A quick look at the instructions and the screenshot show that installation requirements were in line with my abilities.  Some Twitter and Facebook apps and plugins require setting up an API.  Though I’ve successfully done this in the past, a plugin that doesn’t require this step is preferable if it provides the functionality needed.

As it turns out, installing Kebo was really easy.   After downloading it from WordPress.org and uploading into my WordPress site, I connected it to my Twitter account through a screen that looks like this:

Kebo Installation

Screenshot for Kebo installation

You can customize the feed by choosing how frequently to update the feed, and also decide if you want to include your profile photo.  I opted to include my photo so that there is some additional visual impact from the feed.

The installation was really easy, the plugin works perfectly and it looks good on my blog.  I give it five stars.

In the search for Kebo, I also successfully installed the Really Simple Twitter Feed Widget.  I had no problems with it, and was pretty proud of myself for successfully creating a Twitter API.

However, I would recommend Kebo instead for three reasons:

1)    While not too challenging, creating the API adds extra time to the installation process

2)    I think the Kebo feed looks a little better

3)    I like the option of including the profile photo.

My goal is to have a site that is clean and modern looking but also has some visual interest as I build up traffic and interactivity.

When I searched for “Twitter Feed” on WordPress.org, there were 486 results, so I know there are plenty of options.  Do you have a Twitter feed plugin or widget to recommend?

Today is Veterans Day, so I thought I’d share some marketing wisdom from one of this century’s greatest military leaders – Dwight Eisenhower.

So, you’re probably wondering what leading our troops in World War II and then serving as President has to do with marketing.  Actually, more than you think because Eisenhower oversaw the development of the Interstate Highway System and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).  DARPA led to the development of the Internet, and the GSP system, too.  So if you sell products on Amazon and a truck delivers them to your customers,

marketing roadmap

Creating a Marketing Plan gives you a road map

thank President Eisenhower.

In addition to offering visionary leadership that funded projects we all use to our commercial advantage, Eisenhower really understood planning.   His most quotable quote is:  Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.

As a small business owner and entrepreneur, and also from my work with clients, I understand what he meant about the importance of planning and the futility of it, too.

In a speech that Eisenhower gave to National Defense Executive Reserve Conference in 1957, he expanded on this remark to the audience.  He explains the planning process as projecting possible problems that may arise in the execution of your endeavor.  In his experience, the endeavor was winning a war.  The goal was to do so as quickly and with as few casualties as possible.  To that end, he explored many scenarios, examining each one and thinking and planning how to respond.

After the plans were made, he would find himself in the heat of battle.  Things may not look like they did on paper.  Most importantly, there are people involved, and it’s never possible to fully plan or predict how human beings will act, particularly in life or death situations.

That’s why, in the end, the plans may be worthless.  But the practice of considering all of the possible options and thinking methodically about the situation make it possible to act under fire.

When we make plans for our business, that’s what we are doing.  We set aside time to think methodically about our business.  In the MBA model I was trained in, we used the SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats – to guide the plan development.

As I work with small businesses, I find lots of resistance to the idea of writing a marketing plan.  Many of us are so busy fighting fires in our business that we feel there’s no time to put together a plan.  Ironically, some of those fires could be put out with greater efficiency, or perhaps avoided in the first place, if there was a structured planning method in place.  Another roadblock is the fear that if we have a plan, we have to stick to it and ignore good new opportunities.

On the contrary, having a plan creates a framework for evaluating the “opportunities” that pop up on a regular basis.  It also gives you a basis for evaluating the success or failure of your actions.  You can toss the plan out the window.  Its real value is the practice of creating it.

As we go about our day, let’s remember to give thanks for General Eisenhower and all of the other brave men and women who have made it possible for us to live our lives in freedom.

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