Posted on December 5, 2014
Filed Under (Advice, Marketing, Networking) by jennifer

Help me please!I have been writing for print and online publications for over 20 years, and I am always on the lookout for great sources for my articles. I also spent several years (more) doing pubic relations (PR) on both the agency side and for a variety of businesses and have an excellent track record of getting my clients cited by reporters. So I am intimately familiar with what it takes to get a reporter’s (or writer’s) attention.

Yet I am constantly amazed — and annoyed — by how many PR people, especially in the modern digital age, when finding out the names of reporters, the areas they cover, and what they are working on, has never been easier, waste my time.


11 Ways to Piss Off a Reporter (and ensure she will never quote your clients)

1. Don’t bother to Google the reporter, to find out what she writes about — or actually read any of her articles (even though they are easy to find and plentiful).

2. Add the reporter to your email list without her permission and bombard her with emails and press releases that have nothing to do with the beat(s) she covers.

3. Do not follow the reporter on Twitter. (Because if you did, you would know what she was working on.)

4. Do not look for her queries on Help a Reporter. 

5. Repeatedly email the reporter to ask what she is working on. (See above.)

6. Ask the reporter to ping you whenever she is working on an article — even though chances are you will be working with different clients or at a different agency six months from now (or less).

7. Pitch her ideas that have nothing to do with her beat(s). (See above.)

8. Send replies to her Help a Reporter queries that have nothing to do with her query — and/or clearly demonstrate that you, the PR person, have not taken the time (less than 5 minutes) to read any of the reporter’s articles.

9. Send an angry or whiny email to the reporter questioning why she didn’t quote your client in her article.

10. Do not thank the reporter for including your client in one of her articles.

11. Do not promote the article on social media. (FYI: Many, probably most, writers these days get paid based on the number of page views their articles get. So we really appreciate when sources and PR folks publicize articles on social media and put links to the article on their websites.)

Also, be sure to read “How to Pitch to a Reporter (and Get Good Press for Your Business or Client).”

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Posted on May 20, 2014
Filed Under (Marketing) by jennifer

social-media-iconsToday, businesses have more ways — and places — than ever to market themselves, online and off. But deciding on a marketing method, particularly when you are a small business with a small budget and limited resources, can be difficult. While social media marketing is generally free, it can be time-consuming; and the same goes for blogging. But traditional print advertising, as well as digital advertising, can be expensive.

So how — and where — are the best, most inexpensive ways to market your small business? I queried dozens of small business marketing experts. Their top seven  marketing strategies for small businesses appear below.

1. Add a blog to your website (or create a standalone blog that links to your website, and vice versa) — and write not only about your products and services and promotions but about topics and trends that are of interest to your customers and prospective customers.

2. Create a Facebook business page for your small business and be sure to update it regularly (at least once a week), with either new products or helpful tips or articles. Also consider Facebook advertising.

3. Post photos and videos of your products on Pinterest and Instagram.

4. Establish a Twitter presence, in your own name or your company’s, and tweet not only about new products and promotions but share links to articles that would interest your followers.

5. Use email marketing. A monthly or quarterly newsletter is a great way to let customers know about new products or promotions as well as a way to share helpful tips — and there are many inexpensive email marketing services that cater to small businesses (e.g., Mad Mimi, Constant Contact, Campaigner, Emma).

6. Try pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, e.g., Google AdWords — making sure to do some keyword research and decide on a budget first.

7. Don’t forget about press releases/PR! Don’t underestimate the power of a well-written press release, especially if you use a wire service to share it/get it on all the major search engines and major news sites. PR Newswire ,PR Web,  and SBwire all have inexpensive options for small businesses, as well as templates and writing tips, that can help you reach hundreds of thousands of potential customers around the world, or right in your own backyard.

For additional information and tips, as well as detailed explanations of each small business marketing strategy, read my article “8 Expert Online Marketing Tips for Small Businesses.”

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video_iconHaving a video that tells prospective customers about your products or services is now considered a must have for businesses of all sizes. But what if you are a small business with a small business marketing budget? Is it possible to create a video that looks like a million bucks for only a few thousand, or a few hundred, dollars?

The short answer is “yes” — as I learned from creating my first video, for my company Prepster Pineapple Clothing — if you follow these simple tips from video marketing experts.

10 Tips for Creating a Successful Business Video

1. Know who your target audience is.

2. Have a solid concept and script (before you start shooting).

3. Have a clear, simple message — and minimize (or cut) the corporate jargon.

4. Keep it short — typically under two minutes (though there are exceptions).

5. Film in a quiet place (preferably with professional-grade equipment) with good lighting — or hire someone who knows how to shoot a video.

6. Add music.

7. Include a call to action — and a link to your website or preferred landing page.

8. Brand your video with your logo.

9. Post your video to YouTube.

10. Share your video(s) on social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ — and with existing and prospective customers (via email newsletters).

For explanations of each tip, as well as additional tips, read my article “14 Tips for Creating Business Videos Customers Will Want to Watch.” For video marketing tips, check out my article “How to Make Video Marketing Work for Your Business.”

By the way, as one small business learned, your video doesn’t have to go viral to be successful. It just needs to get to the right people.

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Posted on March 21, 2014
Filed Under (Marketing, Mobile, Web Design) by jennifer

mobile-vs-standard-websiteJust because your website can be viewed on a mobile device (smartphone, tablet) doesn’t make it mobile-friendly. To find out how to ensure your mobile customers have a positive experience, follow these 12 suggestions from mobile experts and Web design and development pros.

1. Be responsive (i.e., use responsive design).

2. Think with your thumb (or index finger).

3. Keep the design simple.

4. Keep content short and to the point.

5. Remember, an icon is worth a thousand (or, okay, a dozen) words.

6. Make it fast — by serving images that are optimized for mobile.

7. Don’t go overboard with Java.

8. Make it easy to find your phone number, location, and contact info.

9. Consider video, but add it wisely.

10. Make sure forms are designed for mobile.

11. Consider geolocation (directions to the nearest store, in-store availability of merchandise).

12. Test to ensure your content can be properly viewed on different devices, platforms, and operating systems.

To see full explanations of each mobile web design tip, go to my article, 12 Tips for Creating a Mobile-Friendly Website.”

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Posted on March 7, 2014
Filed Under (Marketing) by jennifer

integrated_marketing_diagramToday small businesses have more choices than ever regarding how and where to market or promote their products and services. In addition to traditional methods, such as print advertising and direct marketing, which can be expensive, you have email marketing, web-based advertising and multiple social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as mobile marketing.

To make sure they reach as many potential (and existing) customers as possible, small business owners and managers must use multiple methods and outlets. The problem is crafting one message that can easily (and inexpensively) be used or adapted on different media or sites — because as many marketers have learned the hard way, what works on Facebook doesn’t necessarily work on Twitter. And what works for traditional email marketing doesn’t necessarily translate to mobile.

So how can small businesses increase their chances of their integrated — or multichannel — marketing campaigns being successful, that is, getting viewed by their intended target(s) and driving traffic to their website, Facebook page, or store? I asked dozens of marketing pros to find out. Their top seven integrated marketing tips appear below.

Step 1: Have a clear understanding of who your target audience is.

Step 2: Pick your channels. Figure out where your target audience is and then direct your efforts at those channels.

Step 3: Have a consistent look. Your branding (logo, tagline, colors, fonts) should be the same no matter which media you choose.

Step 4: Create clear, consistent content that can easily be adapted or repurposed to suit different media or channels.

Step 5: Ensure that your messaging is integrated. Make sure your copy (tagline, calls to action, descriptions) are the same or sufficiently similar across channels.

Step 6: Make sure the people who are helping you market your products and services are working in sync (i.e., regularly communicating with each other).

Step 7: Don’t forget to track your campaigns — and coupons. If you don’t track your campaigns, how do you know which ones are working?

To read full explanations of each tip, read my article “7 Ways to Create a Successful Integrated Marketing Campaign.”

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Posted on February 22, 2014
Filed Under (General Business, Marketing, Networking) by jennifer

crowdsourcing-cartoonAh, the wisdom of the crowd. It can help companies (by attracting new customers) — and it can also hurt them (those pesky negative reviews on sites like Yelp). So how can your small business harness the power of the crowd for good? Dozens of business owners and marketing experts offered the following top seven suggestions for how to effectively use crowdsourcing — to both attract new customers and keep existing customers coming back.

1. Use the crowd to expand your graphic and web design pool/options.

2. Crowdsource your marketing/advertising photography.

3. Crowdsource new product development.

4. Tap the crowd to speed up application development.

5. Use crowdsourcing to test products (for bugs, functionality or simply crowd appeal).

6. Use crowdsourcing to foster innovation + build community.

7. Consider crowdsourcing as a form of customer outreach.

For a complete explanation of each tip and resources, read my article “7 Ways Crowdsouring Can Boost Your Brand and Customer Loyalty.”

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Posted on December 20, 2013
Filed Under (Marketing) by jennifer

ecommerce_iconFor small business owners, January is often a blessing and a curse. While you get to (hopefully) relax a bit after the Christmas rush (a blessing), you don’t want to have too much downtime, i.e., a big drop-off in sales (the post-Christmas curse). So how do you keep customers coming to your ecommerce or bricks-and-mortar store — and keep the cash register ringing — after Christmas and avoid the January doldrums?

I put that question to dozens of small business owners, ecommerce, and marketing experts. Following are their 12 best tips for boosting post-holiday sales — some of which you should start implementing NOW (as in before Christmas or Kwanzaa).

1. Include a discount coupon or gift card for a January purchase with items sold in December.

2. Keep holiday marketing efforts going until the end of the year.

3. Thank holiday shoppers and loyal customers with post-holiday special deals or savings.

4. Run a fun post-holiday contest.

5. Follow up with customers who have clicked on “this is a gift.”

6. Recoup sales from abandoned shopping carts.

7. Keep the deals coming with special January promotions and discounts.

8. Use social media.

9. Bump up your remarketing efforts.

10. Launch a new product or service.

11. Target and reward mobile shoppers.

12. Think globally.

For a detailed explanation of each tip, click on my article, “12 Tips to Boost Post-Holiday Sales.”

Wishing all my fellow small business owners a prosperous new year…

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Posted on December 4, 2013
Filed Under (Marketing, Social Media) by jennifer

twitter_logoWith over 232 million active users, Twitter can be a great way to get the word out about your small business, product, or service. So how can you turn 140 characters into marketing gold? I put that question to dozens of business owners and social media experts. Here are their top 14 tips on how to market your business on Twitter.

1. Optimize your Twitter bio. That means including a brief description of your business as well as a link to either your Home page or a key landing page.

2. Find out who the top influencers and experts are in your target area(s) and interact with them on a regular basis.

3. Get friends and colleagues involved. Have people you know follow you and vice versa — and encourage them to tweet about your business and re-tweet or favorite your tweets.

4. Tweet regularly — at least once a day.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for some Twitter love. Ask followers to retweet, mention or favorite your tweets — or to share content with a fresh tweet.

6. Track mentions — and respond if appropriate.

7. Retweet.

8. Favorite tweets.

9. Follow trends/hashtags and try to work trending hashtags into your tweets (without going overboard).

10. Offer discounts or special deals to Twitter followers.

11. Use images and videos. Photos and videos have been shown to generate three or four times more clicks than regular tweets.

12. Use promoted tweets (if you can afford to).

13. Make sure you are consistent with your messaging across all social media channels.

14. Track your tweets — using Twitter analytics or by including a bitly or similar shortened link to track clicks.

For detailed information about each tip, read my article “14 Ways to Use Twitter to Market Your Business.”

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Posted on October 18, 2013
Filed Under (Ecommerce, Marketing) by jennifer

ecommerce_iconHanukkah is less than six weeks away — and Christmas just four weeks after that. And analysts are predicting that this holiday season ecommerce (including mobile commerce or mcommerce) sales will be even better than last year. The question is, will shoppers be stopping and shopping at your online business?

To find out if your ecommerce site is holiday ready — and learn how you can drive more traffic to your online business and increase sales this holiday season — check out these 16 tips from ecommerce and online marketing pros.

1. Don’t wait until the last minute to get your site holiday ready.

2. Make sure your teams, servers and partners can handle holiday traffic.

3. Make sure your site is secure.

4. Have a true mobile version of your site.

5. Stock up.

6. Make sure pages load quickly.

7. Make products shareable.

8. Make checkout easy.

9. Optimize your copy.

10. Use video and 360-degree images.

11. Implement a holiday SEO strategy.

12. Staff up — and be ready to answer customer queries quickly.

13. Ramp up your email marketing campaigns — and add SMS marketing to the mix.

14. Run pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.

15. Incentivize customers to order early.

16. Offer free or discounted shipping — and provide shipment tracking.

For additional information, and to see explanations of each ecommerce holiday tip, read my article titled “16 Tips for Ecommerce Holiday Season Success.”  And be sure to check out my new ecommerce site, Prepster Pineapple Clothing!

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online_shoppingWith so much competition online for eyeballs (and dollars), your website needs to stand out. Indeed, many times you only have seconds to make a good impression. If your web or ecommerce site is hard to find, takes too much time to load, is unattractive or difficult to navigate, chances are you’ve lost a potential customer, maybe dozens of them. So how do you create content that attracts and sticks in people’s minds?

To find out, I asked dozens of web content and marketing pros. Here are 16 of their top web content strategies for engaging both humans (i.e., potential customers) and robots (search engine spiders or web crawlers) — and increasing your search engine rankings and sales.

1. Make sure your content can be properly viewed across platforms and devices (e.g., laptops, smart phones, tablets).

2. Know the customer journey. (Not everyone is going to land on your home page.)

3. Make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for.

4. Use keywords, but do some research first.

5. Create unique content.

6. Tell a story.

7. Provide product reviews.

8. Let visitors know they can trust you.

9. Blog.

10. Create evergreen content (content that doesn’t grow old or stale).

11. Remember that size matters when it comes to images and multimedia. (Small is beautiful.)

12. Think quality not quantity.

13. Say it with headlines (H1 and H2 tags).

14. Keep content short and to the point.

15. Make content easily shareable — and share it via social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest).

16. Brand photos, images and content with your URL and/or logo.

For additional information, including detailed explanations of each tip, please read my article, “16 Ways to Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy.”

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