Marc Ecko is an amazing inspiration for how to use innovative marketing strategies to differentiate your brand. This is a clip of one of his more notorious stunts. His definition of thinking "out of the box" isn't using an unique sized postcard- it's tagging Air Force One. Love it!
The loan is for amounts up to $35,000 and meant to be a short-term solution to stimulate cash flow. The goal of the ARC loan is get owners investing in their businesses again, instead of just scrapping by with their heads barely above water. The loan proceeds are systemically paid out over a period of six months and repayment does not begin until the last disbursement has been received. Repayments can be made for up to five years. The loans are available starting June 15th, 2009 through September 10, 2010 or until the all the funding has been disbursed. The loans will be issued by commercial lenders and then backed by the SBA. The SBA will then pay the commercial lenders a monthly interest rate.
Ideal candidates will have a plan for future cash flow, a history of profitability in at least one of the business’s previous three years, and are no longer than 60 days past due on their current debt payments. The loan program is not available to start-ups, non-profits, or companies that can not prove viability.
This new program just might be the break many small business owners have been hoping for to get them back in control of their finances. For more information, visit http://www.sba.gov/recovery/arcloanprogram or contact your current SBA approved lender for application details.
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Do-it-yourself publicity isn't for the faint of heart, but it isn't impossible either. Over the past couple of years I've been able to secure several high profile publicity hits on my own and I've learned quite a bit in the process. One of the things that I have learned is that you don't have to pay a Publicist a $3,000 monthly retainer to get a mention in USA Today. Believe it or not- you can get that mention just by sending an email.
In this video, I explain the do it yourself system that has helped me garner media features from such outlets as USA Today, E! TV, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, CBSs The Early Show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and many more.
Want to receive updates when new videos are added? Be sure to subscribe to the blog or find me on twitter at www.twitter.com/glamajama!
Brand monitoring is essentially the process of researching mentions of your brand including its name, officers, products, and more. This is a vital part of branding for many reasons. It can help you find brand evangelists, join conversations with prospects, correct misinformation, find opportunities for free publicity, police your trademark, or even find ideas for new products. It can also be your first line of defense against attacks that can tarnish your brands reputation.
A good example of this was mentioned by Danny Brown of Press Release PR, in a recent blog post. In short, Danny discusses his disgust after reading a press release issued by an internet jeweler stating, "Hollywood actor Owen Wilson was contemplating suicide until he realized that the quality of his own life must be good because of the quality of his Rolex watch." Rolex has not issued a public response, but I am sure they would not have approved of such an unethical and desperate sales pitch. The press release has since been removed, but you know the saying, "Google never forgets." A solid brand monitoring strategy could have alerted Rolex immediately that their brand was being misrepresented in such a creepy and "non-luxurious" way. Timing is important, as prompt attention is necessary to minimize any negative effects to your brand's reputation.
Brand monitoring is free and easy and there is a wide array on services available on the internet that can help. It's a simple as defining the words you want to monitor, signing up for the services, and reading your email reports. I've put together a list of tools worth visiting as you put together your brand monitoring strategy.
Google Alerts: Google's brand monitoring tool that allows you to do a "comprehensive" search of your keywords. You can be notified daily via email or RSS feeds of any relevant alerts. If Google knows about it, so will you.
Yahoo! Pipes: If you're more of the techie type, you'll like the power, versatility, and customization of Yahoo! Pipes. It's a robust system, but may be too complicated for some.
Technorati: Indexes about 1.5 million blogs from the blogosphere and indexes them all in real time. Allows you to search by tag or keyword and ranks the blogs according to their popularity rank.
Blog Pulse: A product of Neilson Buzzmetrics that allows you to chart trend searches, track conversations, and read blogger profiles. This is a great resource for identifying trends in the blogosphere.
Backtype: Tool that allows you to find, follow, and share comments on the web. The search tool allows you to track your keyword in comments posted anywhere on the web. Also includes a function for attributing comments to you so you can track your comment posts.
coComment: Helps track comments on any webpage by using their "CoSearch" function to find conversations using your keywords. It has a Mozilla Firefox plug-in and can also give you information regarding the site owner and where the conversation originated.
Serph: Serph searches for your keywords in blog search engines, social media websites, social news websites and social bookmarking websites. The results are real-time and sorted according to the source and date.
Techrigy: Searches all social media sites for keywords and is customizable for in depth metrics and measurement. This is also a great tool for measuring the success of your social media campaigns. You can see information such as the age, gender, and location of the people using your keywords.
Tweetbeep: The service is a lot like Google Alerts, however it only searches the Twitter stream. With 2 million users on Twitter, the tool is essential for keeping track of your keywords on the micro-blog site. It can track mentions of your company website even when a url shortener is used.
Addictomatic: Great visual interface that allows you to "instantly create a custom page with the latest buzz on any topic." This tool is great for allowing you to see the "big picture" of your online buzz all at once. You can also select which sources you want it to search for keywords.
Boardtracker: This tool allows you to monitor forums and discussion boards. Not all boards are included, so its usefulness will depend on which keywords you are searching. It is a search engine for boards and forums only and all other information on the website is removed from the search results.
For brand monitoring beginners, I would suggest using a couple of the free websites listed above on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Utilizing the email and RSS subscription features should keep your time investment to a minimum. I also encourage you to use your reports for more than just policing your brand. These tools are also powerful market research resources. As always, be sure to keep an eye out for new opportunities for your business.
Image by Into Somerset via FlickrAs 2009 begins, I believe these will be defining times for many Mom Entrepreneurs. With the economy struggling, many families are facing hardships that threaten their financial stability and peace of mind. If you are one of the over 10 million moms in the US that own a business, you have seen these hardships take their toll as your grasp on a healthy work/life balance is strained. While common stressors have always included health issues or even a company’s explosive growth, the Recession has undoubtedly added to this turmoil. As the idea of balance at home and business is threatened, I believe this is a golden opportunity for Mom Entrepreneurs to re-focus and renew their dedication to fulfilling their life plan.
While my own defining moment as a Mom Entrepreneur struggling with work/life balance was not prompted by the Recession, it was indeed prompted by a hardship. My epiphany came shortly after the birth of my second child as I was being wheeled frantically through a hospital’s neurological unit. Five minutes earlier my doctor had informed me that it was highly probable I had a brain tumor. They needed to find out immediately if it was operable. My world stopped. And to think I almost didn’t make the appointment because I was too busy preparing for an upcoming tradeshow. Within an instant, I gained clarity over what was most important and where I needed to be in life. I only wish I would have been able to gain that clarity on my own, without the threat of a serious illness. I was lucky to not have the suspected tumor, although I still have obstacles to overcome. We do not always have a choice about the struggles we face in life, but we do have a choice as to how we confront them. We can either allow them to strengthen our soul and fuel our passions, or simply allow them to fade us into darkness.
The best way to harness those passions is to create a life plan. To take that important first step, you need to define your roles as a mom and as an entrepreneur. This is not a matter of what you “have” to do, but more of what you “want” to do. The idea is to dream big and think family first. Once you have a list of your top five personal and professional goals, outline the process for accomplishing them. Create an outline by filling in the
smaller goals that are needed to accomplish those end goals. Finally, as you review your outline, its time to define the boundaries. Boundaries are vital for creating your “balance” and need to be realistic and rewarding. Examples include, not working after 7pm, weekends reserved for family only, or even that work must be done at the office exclusively. With your written plan in hand, evaluating which opportunities you can pursue without derailing your balance will become much easier. Life planning is a personal process, feel free to make the journey as elaborate or as simple as you need.
Moms are amazingly resilient and resourceful. I have no doubt our families and businesses will continue to flourish in this economy. While times like these are hard, I believe they are important for reminding us how fortunate we truly are. In these defining times, life planning is an essential tool for helping us celebrate and cherish those gifts.
Tip 1: Get Clues
Pitching editors and journalists in the media is a lot like selling. The key is getting to know your customer and then being able to fulfill their needs. Editors make this easy by offering editorial calendars for their publications. These calendars detail exactly what type of pitch the editor will be “shopping” for each month. These calendars are often available online at the company website, or you can contact the sales department and ask for them to send you a media kit. The media kit will include information regarding the reader demographic, circulation, lead times for editorial/advertising, and most importantly-the editorial calendar.
Tip: While requesting a media kit, let the ad rep know that you are very interested in being a part of the magazine, but just can’t swing the cost of an ad right now. Ask to be placed on a “remnant” list. This means that whenever they have advertising space open at deadline they will call you and offer the spot at a deeply discounted rate. Using this strategy I was able to negotiate a placement in US Weekly Magazine for $500 that generated $4,000 in sales in one weekend. (Regular price was $3800) Not a bad return!
Tip 2: Give Them What They Want
Editors are just like you and me. They are in a constant time crunch, have strict deadlines, and rely on vendors to make their product a success. Except in their world, you are the vendor. Editors rely on you to supply them with an influx of fresh ideas and quick access to information so they can meet their production needs. When pitching editors, think about how you evaluate potential vendors and treat them the way you would like to be treated. Make it easy for them to pick you by providing a clear and concise press release, supporting information (where to buy, sizing available, customer references, a demo to try, etc), and always include 300dpi pictures that are ready to print. Each time the editor has to chase you down for information, the less likely you are to make the cut.
Tip: A great way to get in the media’s good graces is to have an online “Press Kit”. This is a special portion of your website dedicated to the media only. Include a history of your press releases, several 300 dpi pictures for use, a company bio with bullet points, a personal bio with bullet points, and customer testimonials. For an added bonus, include a “Tip Sheet”, list of possible story topics that your product/service would fit, and the script for a sample interview that they can pull quotes from.
Tip 3: Be Vigilant
Getting publicity is a full-contact sport. You have to be able to bob and weave and look for the openings. While editorial calendars are a great start and a good foundation for a PR campaign, they are not the end-all, be-all. After all, every single one of your competitors has access to those same calendars. To get ahead you have to be persistent and get creative when looking for press opportunities. Read the news and cater your product/service pitches to tie in to the current headlines and create events that are sure to attract the press (giveaways, charity donations, join other businesses to sponsor a local “family fun” day, etc.). Once you start making pitches, don’t stop! Keep in contact with the editors you contact and always be gracious and professional. They may “pass” five times in a row before you get your turn to be featured. That’s okay. Increase your odds for getting free press by sending out targeted pitches to several complimenting media outlets during each campaign. Don't just rely on that one big "hit".
Tip: Don’t be afraid to be yourself! One summer I was having a horrible time hiring employees. I had several large orders on the books, but no one to fill them. I placed a help wanted ad in the local paper for a hefty price and received only 11 responses. In the past, I had received about 200 responses to my “help wanted” ads. I was incredibly frustrated and just happened to have a USA Today in front of me with an article discussing how low the unemployment rate had become. I shot off an email to the Small Business Editor venting about my situation. Five minutes later he called laughing saying that I definitely had the most passionate response he had received to date. He then interviewed me for an article that was on the USA Today’s Business front page. Free PR for venting my frustrations!
I hope you can take these secrets and put them to good use. Be sure to take notes on successful tactics as you move along and remember, follow-up, follow-up, follow-up! The media is inundated with hundreds of pitches each day and it’s easy to get lost in the chaos. Get noticed by pitching editors what they need-when they need it and seal the deal by providing easy access to that information. And finally, editors need you as much as you need them. Without new and exciting ideas and products, the media wouldn’t have a story to sell. You could be that story!
Media Habits of Moms 25-44 years old:
Cell Phone/PDA 69%
Internet Websites 64%
Internet Chat rooms 9%
Internet Blogs 8%
According to these results, a strategic and well-executed email campaign might just be the most effective way to reach the Mom demographic. I’m a little surprised by the results for the internet media such as blogs and chat rooms. The numbers are dramatically lower compared to email, yet Moms are obviously using their computers regularly. Are they just checking their email and logging off? I doubt it. Or are they subscribing to their favorite blogs via email and just reading the daily blog post via email?
The TOP 5 Activities Moms are doing on the internet are as follows:
1. Checking/Sending Email
2. Paying Bills/Online Banking
3. Reading News
4. Checking Weather
5. Researching Products
I couldn’t help but notice shopping was missing. A little farther down on the list…
7. Shopping for my child (ren)
8. Shopping for myself
Gift giving via online shopping doesn’t show up until number 12 and was the last item ranked. Does that mean Moms prefer to see gift items in person? Or that with better “gift wrap” options Moms could be persuaded to buy more gifts online?
Finally, the survey solicited responses regarding marketing impressions and their impact. Of the Moms surveyed only 54% thought the ads designed to target them as “Moms” were effective. Among the ads that were deemed effective, the Moms ranked the best way to relate to them. The results are as follows:
1. Depict her having fun with her kids (87%)
2. Show her multi-tasking (86)
3. Make her laugh (86%)
It seems that the most effective way to advertise to Moms it to show her being Mom – go figure! As a proud Mom of three little ones, I can agree. Whenever I see ads with a Mom rolling on the ground with her kiddos squealing with glee, I can’t help but smile and be thankful that I too - am a Mom. That happy thought is now associated with the company that evoked that feeling/connection. It’s just human nature – and it works!
I hope you find these statistics interesting and I’d love to hear your comments! Also, if you want to read more of the results by The Marketing to Moms Coalition, please visit their website http://www.marketingtomomscoalition.org .
I can’t help but reminisce on this as I watch my 5 year old son try to sell our old washer and dryer at a neighborhood garage sale. He’s opening the doors, pointing the motor telling her it’s “super big” so it’ll run “super fast”, and that she’s lucky it’s in white-“the best color ever!” He ends with, “So do you want it? I can help put it in your car?” The poor girl is trying not to laugh at his persistence and I step in to save her. As I admire my little salesman, I wonder - how are entrepreneur’s raised? I tried to think back to what shaped me as a child and encouraged my early jelly bracelet enterprise. I’ve put together some lessons that are excellent for cultivating young entrepreneurs.
Visit Flea Markets
Ah, the memories…Flea markets are great for learning the art of negotiating, how to measure a “good deal”, and how to work with all kinds of different people. If you don’t have a decent flea market nearby, farmer’s markets, garage sales, and auctions are all great alternatives as well. Encourage your child to try his luck at bargaining. Try the “buy one get the second half off deal”, ‘”it’s damaged, can I get 20% off?”, and “this is all the money I have, can I have it for $X instead?” Real-world experience negotiating beats anything you can read in a book.
Allowances may have been started as way to compensate for good behavior, but it has been reduced to just being a day that Mom hands over some money. As long as you didn’t get in trouble five minutes earlier, you were getting the handout. This reminds me of an employee doing the bare minimum day in and day out knowing full well they will still be getting a paycheck on Friday. In contrast, offering to pay your child for completing extra chores provides an instant reward for hard work and encourages them to look for more opportunities. They will soon learn that the harder and smarter you work-the more rewards you receive.
See You at the Top
When I was in school they offered an optional “I CAN” course based on a book by Zig Ziglar, called “See You at the Top.” Most of the values I learned in that course are still with me today. Key topics are turning “I Can’t” to “I CAN”, eliminating “Stinkin’ Thinkin’”, and that its not “aptitude, but attitude” that determines success. While I don’t believe the courses are still available today, the book certainly is. They have a 25th Anniversary edition available at most major book stores and his timeless premise of “you can get everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want” still rings true today. Lots of kid-friendly stories that will help drive home the importance of honesty, loyalty, faith, integrity, and strong personal character.
Games are a tremendous opportunity to introduce and reinforce business lessons. Some top titles include Monopoly, Mall Madness, Payday, and PIT (if you’re not familiar with the titles just google them). All of these games teach respect for money, how to earn money, and how to make decisions that will give you the best return on your investment. Successful strategies are rewarded as the “winner.” Other ways to teach the skills of entrepreneurship include Chess, RISK, and CLUE. All of these games emphasize strategy and the importance of having a calculated plan for executing your attack. Another great game that can be played solo and is easy to take along is a book of logic problems. These “problems” ask the player to use logic to deduce answers and search for clues that can solve the mysteries. The amazing deductive analysis of Sherlock Holmes is a great example of this in action.
As you try some of these lessons gauge your child’s interest. If they can’t seem to get enough, praise their efforts and cultivate your young entrepreneur’s need for growth. If they could care less, give them a break and let them find their own pursuits. Each day my son shows more and more interest in “what mommy does”. As much as I enjoy entertaining his curiousities, my only goal is to help him find out "what he does".
Brian Kurth asked himself that same question and in 2004 he found his answer. Brian created Vocation Vacations with a simple philosophy, “happiness and passion can and should be an integral part of what you do”. The company helps people find their passions by fitting would-be entrepreneurs with mentors in their ideal field. Once paired with a one-to-one mentor, the “Vocationer” follows their mentors day-to-day operations and lifestyle to help learn the realities of their dream career. As they gain valuable perspective for creating their business plan, they can also build contacts in the industry and take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) test to help outline skill strengths and potential interests. Vocation Vacations currently has over 125 careers available to test-drive and over 300 mentors that can help you find your way. In one weekend, all those nagging questions and doubts can be answered. By Monday, you’ll either be writing your business plan or chatting with the girls at lunch about the difference between a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon. And most importantly, you can stop wondering, “what if?”
For more information on taking a weekend test-drive and a list of all the vacation opportunities available, visit www.vocationvacations.com.
Once you’ve designed your widget, share it with family and friends. Solicit their feedback and then sit back and listen. Yes, she’s your Mom, but she is also a consumer. Would she buy it? How much would she be willing to spend? Ask these questions of everyone and anyone you can find. Once you’ve done this initial “market research”, consider the suggestions you’ve received and make the changes you feel are valid. With your “new and improved” product in hand, try comparing it to other products on the market and especially your competitors. How do you stack up? What makes you different? Do you have a niche? Can the market bear your price point?
After passing the test with family and friends it’s time to move outside of your comfort zone. Only when you start selling to “joe public” will your product, pricing strategies, and marketing be truly challenged. It’s wise to start small and focus on refining your product before you invest too much in the unknown. In other words, don’t go overboard buying packaging, displays, etc. that don’t pass the test with paying customers. The best way to start small is to start locally. Shop your local boutiques and look for a store that carries merchandise which compliments your product. Once you find a store that seems like a great fit, call to schedule an appointment with the store’s buyer. Be prepared to pitch your product on the phone and explain why you think she should see your design. Confirm the appointment and if needed, offer to forward more detailed information that day.
As you prepare for the meeting, expect to bring a couple samples with you to display, a product catalog showing all the variations, and sell sheets with wholesale pricing. Spend some time prepping your wares and determine a few different ways to display your widgets. Look for small props that will help get them noticed without overwhelming the product itself. In a crowded store environment your designs will have to be seen to be sold. Once at the meeting be sure to answer the question, “Why would customers buy this product?” This is the bottom line that all retailers need to know. Your ability to answer this question will help determine whether your designs are given an opportunity in the store. Emphasize the benefits-not the features, and always show confidence in your design. It may feel like your wearing your heart on your sleeve at times, but if you don’t believe in your product why should they?
Once you’ve demonstrated the product, talked up its benefits, and explained the options and pricing-ask for the sale. If they say yes, congratulations-you’re on your way to becoming a paid designer. If they say no, thank them for their time; make a note to call them next season, and move on to Plan B. If the store doesn’t want to take the chance on your widgets, you can always offer to sell your items on consignment. This means that the store agrees to display the designs for you and pays the wholesale cost only when an item sells. This eliminates the “what if it doesn’t sell?” excuse for the buyer and gives you a foot in the door to prove your products worthiness. Either way, the ball is in your court and you’ve gained valuable experience marketing your product. After the meeting, critique your performance and look for ways to improve your next pitch. You’ve succeeded in taking the next step and as you continue to grow professionally, so will your business. Don’t forget this is a creative process - have fun with it!
Nearly 10.4 million businesses in the United States are women-owned. Of those 10.4 million women, many of them are juggling the demands of motherhood and striving to achieve that elusive work/life balance. With 41% of the businesses out there today being women-owned, the world of business is learning to embrace the diversity and innovation that women can bring to the table. As the numbers of women entrepreneurs rise, business will continue to become increasingly mom-friendly. Gone are the days of naysayer's telling women it's crazy to think you can "have your cake and eat it to." I have benefited from these trends and I am thankful for the women before me that have helped pave the way. Five years since launching, my company is stronger than ever and I have never missed a single moment with my children. It hasn't always been easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.
My goal for this blog is to share tips and advice for starting and growing your business, pass along tales of successful Moms in Business, and to report on technology and innovations that can help you find your work/life balance a little easier. And finally, I hope to inspire you to live your dream of "having your cake and eating it too."
Want to read more? Please visit my Startup Nation blog at: http://www.startupnation.com/blogs/index.php/author/hnolte/
Heather is a bootstrap entrepreneur with a passion for using innovative and cost-effective strategies for securing high profile media placements including mentions on Oprah, The Today Show, Early Show, USA Today, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. She is an expert in utilizing celebrity product placements as a tool for catapulting sales. Celebrities who have received clothes include Demi Moore, Oprah, Britney Spears, Kate Hudson, Angela Bassett, Holly Robinson Peete, Tia Carerre, Lisa Rinna, and Brooke Burke to name a few.
Eager to share her experiences with fellow entrepreneurs, she is a contributing blogger at StartupNation and her personal blog at MomsCanLaunch. She consults with small to mid-sized companies looking to incorporate a glam approach to their marketing efforts such as celebrity product placements, content marketing strategies that build raving fans, and leveraging social media to promote ecommerce platforms.
In addition to helping her clients, Heather Nolte is the CEO and founder of Glamjama, LLC, a boutique children’s clothing line that creates fashion forward pieces for little ones that promises to take them “from the crib to the catwalk.” Since launching the company in 2003, Glamajama has been sold in over 500 boutiques throughout the states and overseas including such retailers as Nordstrom’s, Barneys New York, JCPenny, and Target.
Eager to share her experiences with fellow entrepreneurs, she is a contributing blogger at StartupNation and her personal blog at MomsCanLaunch. She is also currently co-authoring a book, Rock and Roll Mamas, which encourages new Moms to embrace their inner Rock Star by expressing themselves creatively through music and fashion. She consults with small to mid-sized companies looking to incorporate a glam approach to their marketing efforts such as celebrity product placements, content marketing strategies that build raving fans, and leveraging social media to promote ecommerce platforms.
For more information regarding consulting services, please contact Heather directly, email@example.com.