Thursday, February 9, 2012

Your Expertise Is Needed By the Media

Let's say for example you're watching the 6pm news.  The anchor announces the top story, which is about the economy, then introduces the reporter that will be doing the story.  The reporter gives us the broad strokes about key economic indicators and then there's a cut to her produced package.  First, there's an  interview with an economist, whose comments have been edited down to just a few salient points. Cut back to our reporter, who is now standing in front of a local restaurant.  The reporter begins explaining how some small businesses are thriving despite the economy.  The owner of the restaurant describes how she has paired a new service with select menu items.  The camera pans around the establishment, giving us a good view of the interior.  So although the story was about the economy, we met the owner of a local restaurant, learned something about the food and fare and we even got a glimpse of the ambiance as we watched diners enjoying their meals.

Have you ever wondered how reporters go about picking that regular person or business to feature in a news story?  Of course they have contacts, but these are often noted experts in a given field. But what about the woman that clips so many coupons that she spends about $10.00 a month on average for groceries?  Or the teen that volunteers for an after school reading program?  How likely is it that a reporter would have them in their contacts?  Not very.  But there's a great way for regular people and business owners to get this type of exposure by sharing their expertise. It's Help A Reporter Out, or HARO, the source repository that pairs over 30,000 members of the media with sources just like you.

Here's HARO founder Peter Shankman with a quick overview:

You can register for free, and receive three media opportunities a day delivered to your inbox.  There are other packages that offer more, but these costs.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Not Getting Ink? Then Self-Publish

I recently came across a blog post by investor, writer, entrepreneur James Altucher.  In it, he talks about his decision to move from traditional publishing to self-publishing, and the benefits and process of self-publishing. In fact, Altucher says entrepreneurs should also be self-publishers.  I have written a couple of  books myself (although I've only published one of them), but those books had nothing at all to do my business. So his piece is quite timely because my plan is to self-publish an ebook or two on marketing and small business development.   Self-publishing can be a low-cost way to create new marketing and promotional opportunities, to expand your brand and create another revenue stream (though probably a small one, but then again, you never know).

Altucher has published eight books, of which three were self-published.  He says that after considering the dwindling profit margins in the publishing industry, along with numerous other headaches such as the time it takes between having your book accepted and it being published ( usually about a year), he'll only self-publish from now on.  This makes perfectly good sense given that technology can shrink the timeline to two or three weeks from when you write your book to it being available for people to read it.

You may have heard of Altucher, especially if you're into investing, he's built a couple of successful financial websites, written for the Wall Street Journal and featured weekly on CNBC.  You'd think that with his high profile he'd rather skip the grunt work and stick with traditional methods. Not so. Granted, he's had some rocky times with traditional publishers, but he says he'll never go back.  And that's understandable.  He spent a whopping $70 to self-publish his first book, using Amazon's (that included formatting for Kindle).  From what I know about self-publishing, that seemed unusually low. But after reading how he did it, I can see how it's possible.  By the way, I'd appreciate it if you'll use the Amazon search box on this site when looking up

Also, drop me a line, or post a comment, and I'll tell let you know if you qualify to have your ebook published and marketed for free.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Like Produce, Website Content Should Be Fresh

If you've ever gone to the produce section at your local supermarket looking for fresh strawberries only to find pints of over-ripened, browning fruit, you know what a turn-off that is.  It's pretty much the same thing with your website. Attracting visitors is only one part of the equation, getting them to come back again and again is the other.

Keeping your website updated takes commitment and a little extra time, but is well worth the effort.  Here are some tips for maintaining a website that will keep your visitors (and potential) customers coming back for more.
  1. Content is king.  Offer as much useful content as possible.  If you don't have one already, consider starting a blog.  Because this can be time-consuming, you might want to consider occasionally inviting a guest to write on a special topic.  Another great way to expand your content is to add a podcast and videos. 
  2. If your business involves frequently changing information, you should regulary update your website to reflect these changes. Such information might include prices, stocks or inventory.
  3. If you use white papers, articles or abstracts, add to or replace these items every couple of months.
  4. Be consistent.  If you change your marketing materials, are adding or discontinuing a product or service, make the necessary changes on your website.
  5. Adding an industry-related news feature can also be another source of fresh content.
I realize that frequently updating your website can be a costly endeavor if you are using a web developer to make the changes.  You might want to consider re-negotiating the terms of your agreement, perhaps extending the service contract in exchange for more flexiblility in making changes to your site.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's Loco Not to Be Local

Here's some good news for SMBs:  According to a recently released survey from American Express, an overwhelming majority of Americans place a high value on small local businesses.  Of those surveyed, 89% said they believe that small businesses contribute positively to their local communities; 93% said they believe it’s important for people to support the small businesses they value in their community, and 87% believe that small business success is a critical element of overall U.S. economic health.

But the survey respondents also offered more than warm and fuzzy feelings towards small businesses.  The study also indicates that consumers are putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to spending at local small businesses.  Nearly one third of monthly discretionary spending is done at locally-owned, independent businesses, with just over $100 per month spent at their favorite store.

Consumers are clearly demonstrating a commitment to local SMBs, so take every opportunity to utilize marketing streams that are local-centric. Register at sites that showcase local commerce and can influence a buyer's decision such as Yelp, Yahoo Local Listings, Google Places, Citysearch, MerchantCircle, Insider Pages and many more.

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