Saturday, November 29, 2008

5 Deadly Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make While Social Networking

Here's another great article from Rick Itzkowich. This time he talks about mistakes that will sabotage your attempts to be successful in your social networking endeavors. A quick preview:

Mistake #1: Not having the right mindset
Mistake #2: Not having a strategy
Mistake #3: Not having patience

To read the full article as posted on Biznik, click here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Newsletter Success Secrets from Virtually Yourz

E-mail marketing is growing in popularity for two main reasons: (1) business owners need affordable opportunities to market their products and services to prospective customers, and (2) prospective customers are more often surfing the Web to find the products and services they want and need. As more and more companies use e-newsletters, or e-zines, to market to their target audience, however, we find our Inboxes filled each morning and we have to sift through those that we want to read now, will read later or will simply delete. To make sure that your e-zine gets opened now and read, follow these newsletter success secrets:


- Keep it short and sweet. Whether you insert outside content or write your own, offer one or two main ideas with each issue. If you offer too much content, it is likely to be ignored.

- Add interesting tidbits, quotes or “how to” tips for the reader who skims.

- If you including lengthy articles in your newsletter, abbreviate them to one or two paragraphs and then link to the full article on your website. This not only keeps your newsletter brief, but it leads the reader to your website…where you can track the pages they visit.

- Tailor your newsletter to your readers by asking them for feedback. What do they like, dislike, want to read about, etc.? What topics are important to them? What problems do they have that you can help solve?

- Create an interactive newsletter that includes questions, polls, surveys or asks for specific feedback. By engaging the reader, you are more likely to turn him or her into a site visitor and possibly a client.

- Your last paragraph should include a call to action or an offer to initiate a call or an e-mail request.


- Brand your newsletter so that it matches your other marketing materials. Include your logo, company colors and perhaps your photo.

- Make it visually appealing. Include photos, clip art, charts, graphs or other visual elements that complement the content.

- Choose an e-mail newsletter service that allows you design flexibility that is easily readable by multiple e-mail programs (Outlook, Eudora, Thunderbird, etc.).


- Make subscribing to your newsletter easy…and free.

- Provide “jump to” links in the top of the newsletter so readers can go right to the article or idea that most interests them.

- Send your newsletter at regular intervals—weekly, biweekly, monthly, quarterly— rather than sporadically. This is the best way to ensure that readers (aka prospective clients) remember you and look forward to getting your e-zine.

- Use an e-mail newsletter service that automatically creates an archive for your newsletters. This creates a history for you, but also for website visitors who might want to read past issues.

- Choose an e-mail newsletter service (e.g., Constant Contact, Your Mailing List Provider) that tracks user statistics and tells you who opened your newsletter and which links they clicked on. You can use this information to tailor future newsletters to your readers.

If you're unsure about any of these elements, consider the e-mail newsletters that you enjoy reading. What do you like about them? What makes them stand out? Why are you reading them? Jot down some notes about the elements that impress you and consider borrowing those ideas for your next newsletter!

Copyright © 2008 by Dana E. Blozis. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Marketing Wisdom: Don't Market TO, Communicate WITH

People don't want to be "marketed TO"; they want to be "communicated WITH."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ten Tips to Polish Your Press Release

Working with small businesses and nonprofits, I am often asked for advice on writing a press release that is sure to get picked up by worthy media outlets. For those new to writing press releases, here are 10 quick tips to ensure your success:

Tip #1 – Your press release must be newsworthy. You can’t write a press release to say how great your company is without having a reason for saying so. OK, that’s not entirely true. You can write a press release saying "ABC Company is the BEST widget maker in the world." However, news outlets won’t listen. However, if you say "ABC Company was recently awarded a million dollar contract by the U.S. Government to make widgets," the media is much more likely to pick up your story.

Tip #2 – The first paragraph of your press release should summarize your news factually and succinctly. Leave out the modifiers like biggest, best, most sought after, etc. Keep it short and to the point. Details can be added in subsequent paragraphs.

Tip #3 – Dress up your press release with a pertinent quote from a company official or an industry expert. This not only adds credibility to the press release, but it is more interesting to read. It also provides media outlets with an additional contact name for further information.

Tip #4 – The end of your press release should always contain a brief – no more than two or three sentences – about your company. Here’s an example: "ABC Company was founded by widget maker Tom Jones after he retired from Widget University in 1999. The company has grown exponentially since its early days, adding commercial and industrial to its line of widgets last year. For more information about ABC Company, please visit the company’s Web site at or call 888-555-1212."

Tip #5 – Be sure to include contact information (name, phone number, e-mail address and Web site). While some people prefer to include this at the beginning of the press release, it is becoming more popular to include this information at the end of the press release. Regardless of where you choose to include it, make sure it is easy to find.

In addition to writing a press release that will get noticed, it is also important to know to whom to send it.

Tip #6 – Choose your audience based on the anticipated level of interest. For example, if you are announcing quarterly earnings for an international company, your press release should go to as many media outlets as possible. However, if you are discussing a local event in your press release, concentrate your efforts on the local print, radio and TV media.

Tip #7 – If your audience is on the edge of another market, distribute it to both markets but change it slightly to make it more suitable to the second market. For example, I recently distributed a press release to the primary market of Whatcom and Skagit Counties (Washington) with the title "Local Businesses Help Kick Multiple Sclerosis." To make this newsworthy to the two counties to the south, I changed the heading to "Northwestern Businesses Help Kick Multiple Sclerosis." This slight adjustment increased the likelihood that other markets would pick up the story.

Tip #8 – The Internet has become an incredibly useful tool for instantly distributing news at a low cost. My favorites are and, although I have also used and I love that these sites are inexpensive, easy to use, and they track statistics on each press release so you know how many times it has been read, forwarded, printed, etc.

Tip #9 – Press releases can also be distributed in press kits. Normally sent to the media to announce new products or significant business changes, press kits are handy tools to share your company’s message consistently and inexpensively to a variety of media. Each press kit should, of course, include a press release of some kind.

Tip #10 – For companies who have a press or media page on their Web sites, this is a great spot to include press releases. This not only increases a company’s key words, but it provides an easy place for customers and the media to find updates. When distributing a press release, be sure to post it on your Web site.

While you can’t control when or if a given media outlet will carry your press release or do a follow-up story on your news, following the above tips can improve your odds.

Copyright (c) Dana E. Blozis, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Marketing wisdom: Why customers buy...

Customers buy for their reasons, not yours.
Orvel Ray Wilson

Monday, November 17, 2008

Virtually Yourz Expands, Hires Two Writers

November 17, 2008

Local Marketing Company – Virtually Yourz – Expands, Hires Two Writers

Kent, Washington, November 17, 2008 – Dana Blozis, owner of Virtually Yourz, announced today that she has expanded her company, adding two local writers, DeAnn Rossetti and Gail Schaar, to her staff. Rossetti and Schaar will assist Blozis in providing writing, editing and marketing services to Virtually Yourz clients.

Rossetti, an award-winning freelance writer and reporter based in Maple Valley, has more than 20 years of writing experience. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama/speech and history and a Master’s degree in writing. In addition to working for Virtually Yourz, Rossetti writes book reviews, feature stories, business articles and more for local and online publications.

Formerly with the Kent Chamber of Commerce, Schaar has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and advertising from Washington State University. She has a wide range of public relations, marketing and advertising experience and has won two awards from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. Schaar’s specialty is events promotion.

“Since moving to Kent in 2005, my business has grown beyond my expectations. After repeatedly turning down business, I knew it was time to hire additional writers,” Blozis said. “I’m thrilled to have DeAnn and Gail on my team. They bring a unique mix of professionalism and creativity to Virtually Yourz that further enhances the services we provide to our clients.”

With a degree in business administration, Dana Blozis started Virtually Yourz in 2004, after a 20-year career in the financial services industry. Specializing in small business marketing and public relations, Virtually Yourz provides writing, editing and marketing services to corporate clients, small businesses and nonprofit organizations. In addition to running Virtually Yourz, Blozis writes for publications including Seattle Business, Seattle Metropolitan, South Sound magazine, Computer Source, The Seattle Times, Kent magazine, Renton magazine and more. She also serves as the president of the Western Washington Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

For more information about Virtually Yourz, contact Dana Blozis at 360-920-1737 or visit the company’s website at

For more information, please contact:

Dana Blozis, Owner
Virtually Yourz
360-920-1737 phone
253-859-9257 fax

Affordable Marketing for Your Small Business

When I started my business five years ago, I had enthusiasm and passion for my work, but a very small marketing budget. I also lacked a marketing plan for getting my message out to my target customer. I have learned a lot along the way and hope to impart what I’ve learned to you. Whether you just started your small business or are in your tenth year, there are some simple, affordable ways to keep your name in front of prospective clients and customers.

News releases. I recommend to clients that they distribute three to four news releases (better known as press releases) each year. This gives clients an opportunity to shout news out to the world about new products, services or partnerships; key hires; industry awards and certifications; new locations; events and more. News releases should be distributed on a timely basis to local media, trade publications and online. In addition, a well-crafted news release makes a great direct mail piece or a nice addition to your sales or media kit. Depending on whether you do the writing and distribution yourself, costs are variable. Distribution costs will also vary. Distribution via e-mail or fax is virtually nothing. Online distribution varies. Many news distribution sites are free, but I like to include a contribution to to guarantee inclusion in popular search engines.

Online forums and networking sites. As social media continues to grow, relevant online forums and networking groups (e.g., Linked In, Biznik, Facebook, Twitter, Connexions, Konnects) are a great way to interact with professionals and prospective clients. By actively participating in Q&A forums, you expand your reach. To take full advantage of these free opportunities, make sure you complete your online bio; include your contact information and web address; and participate regularly. Such participation can also help to position you as an industry expert.

Referral program. About half of my business comes from client referrals. To let clients know I appreciate their referrals and to encourage them to keep sending them to me, I include my referral program in my business agreement. In exchange for a prospect who does business with me, I offer the referring client two complimentary hours of writing, editing or marketing services. Aside from my time, this costs me nothing and benefits both my clients and my business.

Newsletter. There are so many affordable e-mail services these days that sending an e-newsletter to prospective clients is a no brainer. The service I use costs about $5 per month, and it not only maintains my e-mail lists for me, but it provides templates and tracks reader stats. Clients can opt-in, unsubscribe or change their e-mail address at any time. This is an inexpensive way to stay in touch with clients and prospects.

The next question, of course, is how and when to implement the above. I recommend pulling out your calendar and scheduling time for marketing and business development. Schedule a news release for each quarter, or at least three times a year. For online forums and networking sites, set aside a certain amount of time each week to participate. A referral program requires a little bit of set-up time and a notification to clients of the new program, but aside from that, it doesn’t require much time. For your newsletter, I recommend sending them to clients at regular intervals. If you can’t manage biweekly or monthly, at least put together a newsletter on a quarterly basis. Save ideas in a folder so they are all in one spot when you’re ready to get started.

Try these ideas for at least six months and watch your business grow and, if you find that one method works better than the others, focus your efforts in that category. Enjoy your new affordable marketing solutions!

Copyright © Dana E. Blozis 2007-2008.

Friday, November 14, 2008

How to Communicate Professionally Online

Some people enjoy writing. Some, like me, are even driven to write. Others hate it. They hate words. They hate writing them down, and they hate typing them. Some people even hate reading them.

Regardless, the written word is a necessary part of our daily lives, particularly in a world that has become less face-to-face and more virtual. We communicate not only through the Web but through our e-mail communications, instant messengers and online chat. As a result, the words and images we use must be carefully chosen to not only convey our meaning but our tone as well.

Here are some tips to help you put your best foot forward in your online communications:

• “Internet speak” (LOL, b4, np, ty, etc.) is fine for casual communications with friends, but it should not be used on your company Web site or in any other professional communications. Words should not have to be deciphered to be understood. Save the LOL, BTW, and CYL for text messaging your kids.

• Always use appropriate punctuation and grammar – these tried and true rules will never go out of style. Need a refresher course? Pick up a resource guide the next time you visit or your local bookstore. I like Punctuation Simplified and Applied by Geraldine Woods (Webster’s New World, 2006).

• For those who didn’t get the memo yet, PLEASE don’t use ALL CAPS to convey a message. This is akin to shouting in the online world.

• Befriend the “spell check” tool and buy a good dictionary and thesaurus. Spelling errors create the perception that a person is too busy to proofread his own work or to pay attention to little details.

• To present content that is easily understood, write in clear, simple language. The benchmark is to write for an audience of 10th graders.

• When possible, add descriptive modifiers (i.e., adjectives) to convey degree and tone. Compare these two ideas: 1) “With our experience, our Web design team can create Web pages quickly.” 2) With more than 50 years of combined Web design experience, our creative team can develop an attractive, functional page design within 72 hours.” Sentence 2 shares the same idea, but is much clearer.

• Always proofread and edit your work to be sure it is error free and easily understood. For larger projects with a long-term impact, like Web copy, consider hiring a professional writer or editor to be sure your story gets told in a way that adequately shares the value of your company with others.

By following these basic guidelines, you can ensure that you communicate clearly and professionally - online and off - with your customers and prospective clients.

Copyright © Dana E. Blozis 2006-2008.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

10 Tips to Writing Better Marketing Materials

When searching for a topic to write about, I came across another great article on, this one from Lynn Baldwin-Rhoades: 10 Tips to Writing Better Marketing Materials. In this article, she offers advice from other writers on their top 10 tips for writing better marketing materials. My favorite tip is from Molly Dee Anderson who suggests, "Deliver your message plainly in the language of your audience." Which tip is your favorite?

Virtually Yourz,
Dana Blozis

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Define your audience before marketing to it

It sounds counter-intuitive but some new businesses are not sure who their target customers are. They may know who they want them to be (affluent customer from the surrounding geographic area with significant disposable income), but don't always know if their customers will be male or female, what age group, etc. or what their favorite products or services or optimal price points will be.

To learn more about your target customer, visualize the group you want to reach out to and learn more about that group. Where do they shop? What magazines and newspapers do they read? Do they shop online? Is your target customer male or female? married or single? parent or nonparent? These types of things will help you to get a better feel for who your customer is and offer some insight as to where you might be able to reach that customer. For example, if you know your customers have children, you might target a parenting magazine for advertising versus a community newspaper who hits part of that demographic but not all of it. You might also consider adding a children's corner to your store to make it easier for families to bring their kids shopping with them.

Once you define your target market, reach out to those customers and continue to research and tweak your demographics. The better you understand your customer, the more effective your marketing will be. Happy marketing!

Virtually Yourz,
Dana Blozis

Thursday, November 6, 2008

When the going gets tough, small businesses fail: 10 common mistakes

This article, written by Jean-Pierre Ruiz and posted on, outlines the top 10 business mistakes small businesses make when starting out. If you have started your own business or are thinking about starting one, this article is a "must read." Ruiz points out how important it is to have a plan, know your market and to be prepared financially (think "cash on hand").

Virtually Yourz,
Dana Blozis

Biznik - Business Networking

Monday, November 3, 2008

6 Home Based Business Tax Deductions

Here's a great article I ran across on, outlining 6 tax deductions for home-based businesses like mine. Read on to find out more about tax deductions including: auto expenses, insurance, office expenses, mortgage interest and property taxes, and miscellaneous deductions. This is a great, short "how to" article on tax savings. As you prepare for year end, add this article to your "must read" list.

Virtually Yourz,
Dana Blozis

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Use e-mail marketing to get in front of your target customer

One of the best ways to reach out to your target customers is to gather their e-mail addresses. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you can collect addresses by asking customers and visitors to sign a Guest Book at the counter. If you have a website or a blog, you can collect e-mail addresses there using a database or other e-mail service (I like Your Mailing List Provider) to capture the information.

Then, add e-mail marketing to your marketing plan, and send out regular e-mails to your customers. This can be weekly, biweekly, monthly, quarterly or whatever frequency works for you. The key is to send something memorable or useful and to send it regularly. At the same time, make sure you give your customer the opportunity to update his or her e-mail address or to opt out if they don't want to receive e-mails from you any more.


Monthly coupons or promotions
Creative ways to use a product or service you offer
Promote events or company news
Holiday or gift-giving reminders or ideas

Utilizing e-mail marketing is an easy-to-use, affordable way to get in front your target customers. Need more ideas or help getting started? Please e-mail me. I can help!

Virtually Yourz,
Dana Blozis