Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Five Quick & Easy Social Media Marketing Tips

If you haven't already embraced the social media, consider adding it to your marketing toolbox to expand your online reach.

1) Facebook: Create a profile, invite colleagues and clients to join, and make regular posts and updates. This tool is easy to setup and use and is much more professional than sites like MySpace.

2) Twitter: If you are a fan of Facebook, you'll love Twitter where you can post frequent but brief "tweets" that will automatically be sent to your list of followers.

3) Blogging: Create a free blog to reach out to prospective clients. Add blogs 2 - 3 times per week. Make them interesting and visually appealing.

4) Biznik: I love this fun networking site which not only promotes online networking but face-to-face networking as well - a nice change of pace!

5) Linked In: This professional networking site is a great way to connect with colleagues. In particular, I love the Q&A section where you can get and give free advice. It's a wonderful brainstorming tool.

Virtually Yourz,
Dana Blozis

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A strategy that can't miss

In marketing, I've seen only one strategy that can't miss -- and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last.
- John Romero

Monday, December 22, 2008

Five Free Marketing Tips

With the sad state of our economy, it is important for all of us to reduce expenses and conserve cash flow. Here are some free, easy-to-implement marketing ideas that you can use today to promote your business.

1) Add a special offer or call to action to your e-mail signature. For example: "Ask me about my December marketing special." "Our new widgets are flying off the shelves. Reserve yours today!" "Sign up for my e-mail newsletter and I'll send you my free report on Top 10 Ways to Promote Your Business Under $50." "There's still time to shop for Christmas. Stop in today!"

2) Add the same offer to your voice mail message. Make it short and sweet, so your message doesn't drag on for too long.

3) Volunteer for your favorite nonprofit, school or church. You will feel good about serving your community, make new friends and potential business contacts.

4) Offer to speak at an upcoming meeting or event, or teach a workshop or seminar for free. This is a great way to showcase yourself and to leave a lasting impression.

5) Create a free blog to share your insight and expertise. People love getting things for free, and you can position yourself as an expert.

Do you have a favorite free marketing idea to share? If so, post as a comment or e-mail it to me and I'll post.

Virtually Yourz,
Dana Blozis

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Value of the Referral

Referrals from colleagues, clients and friends are extremely valuable to my business. In fact, referrals are one of my top two sources of new business. Approximately 90% of the referrals that contact me, hire me.

To keep those priceless referrals coming, I do the following:

1) I ask each prospect how they found out about me (web, referral, business directory, etc.), so I know where to concentrate my marketing efforts.

2) I personally thank each person who gives me a referral. Sometimes it is a handwritten thank you note or a personal phone call, and other times I give the referrer a gift or gift card, or treat them to lunch, to thank them for thinking of me.

3) To encourage referrals from my existing clients, I include a referral offer in my business agreement. In exchange for every referral who hires me, I'll give two free hours of my services to that client. This provides them with a tangible, quantifiable reason to refer me to others.

4) I refer my favorite professionals (graphic designers, editors, printers, etc.) to colleagues, so they know I'm looking out for their businesses too. Because I often partner with referral sources on projects, these referrals benefit me as well. I refer professionals who are good at what they do and whom I enjoy working with.

What can you do to grow your referrals today?

Virtually Yourz,
Dana Blozis

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Make a splash with a world-class business card!

To some, a business card is just a small piece of card stock with contact information and a logo. To those who know how to sell themselves and their companies, it is a powerful marketing tool in a small package. A well-designed card will stand out from others and carry on your brand wherever you go.

If you'd like your business card to scream "save me," follow these tips.

1) Have your card professionally created by a graphic designer. It may cost a few bucks up front but, once complete, the design is yours to keep and reuse over and over.

2) Ensure that your card's design flows with your brand in terms of look and feel including fonts, logos, colors and messaging. If you aren't sure where to begin, take out a stack of business cards you've collected and lay them face up in front of you. Which cards do you notice first? Why? Jot down the things you like and discuss them with your graphic designer. She can use that information to design a card that's perfect for you and your business.

3) Include useful information on the back of your card to make sure people use it and remember you. If you're a stylist and nutritionist, for example, turn it into an appointment card. If you're a real estate agent, include home buying tips, home selling tips, key local numbers (utilities, government, schools, emergency) or a referral offer. Another useful option is to list your products or services on the back of your card.

4) Go for a clean, uncluttered design. I've seen business cards that were so crammed with contact information that it was difficult to read the tiny print. Others included every professional designation the person had. Stick to the basics: your company name, logo, marketing tagline and primary contact information. If you want to include your designations, include only those that will be easily recognizable to your clients or put them on the back of the card.

5) Consider upgrading your card stock or adding a glossy finish to your card. These little touches can make your card pop. My card is made from normal stock but it has a nice glossy finish which makes the card stand out among others, and it feels nice to the touch. People often comment on how great my cards look. If that's their first impression of me and my business, I've already succeeded in getting their attention.

The next time you have business cards made, follow these tips and you'll be thrilled with the results. Go out and make a splash with your new world-class business card!

Virtually Yourz,
Dana Blozis

Monday, December 15, 2008

Time to Plan for 2009

The New Year is just around the corner and, for many businesses except for retail, this is a slow time of year. If you have a little extra down time on your hands, use it as an opportunity to plan for 2009. Consider what products or services you might add next year, or maybe those that didn't do well this year that need to be retooled. Has your target market shifted at all? Do you need to change your advertising or reach out to a different group?

This is also a great time to look at your marketing plan and time line for 2009. What activities will you do regularly? weekly? monthly? quarterly? semiannually? annually? as needed? Try to schedule them for specific times of the month, so they are fairly consistent. Here's a quick example of what your January marketing plan might look like:

Week #1: 1/4 page ad in local community newspaper (biweekly)
Week #1: Post timely blog (2 per week)
Week #2: Monthly e-mail marketing (monthly)
Week #2: Post timely blog (2 per week)
Week #3: Press release announcing a key hire or business anniversary (as needed)
Week #3: Post timely blog (2 per week)
Week #3: 1/4 page ad in local community newspaper (biweekly)
Week #3: Review e-mail marketing stats for open rate and click-through rate (monthly)
Week #4: Networking meeting at Chamber of Commerce or other group (monthly)
Week #4: Post timely blog (2 per week)
Week #4: Check website and blog traffic for the month. Note any changes. (monthly)

Creating such a plan helps you to more effectively schedule your time, and it ensures that your marketing efforts are consistent. Only when you do this can you accurately measure your results to see what is working and what isn't. Happy Planning!

Virtually Yourz,
Dana Blozis

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Remembering your clients & vendors this season

Regardless of what holidays or religions your clients and vendors observe, the holiday season is a great time to thank them for their business and their contributions to your success. Here are a few thoughtful and affordable ways to remember your clients this year:

1) Send personalized holiday cards between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. I go with a generic message such as Happy Holidays or Season's Greetings so they are all purpose, but I always sign each card personally and include a note thanking the client or vendor for working with me this year.

2) Send a gift of appreciation. I buy my ongoing and larger clients a small gift at Christmas - a nice pen & pencil set, a box of chocolates, a gift basket from Harry & David, or something else that I know that client would enjoy. For example, I have one client who prefers natural and organic products, so my gift to her will reflect that preference. For those who are far away, I ship the gifts. If they are local, however, I deliver the gift personally.

3) Make a donation on their behalf. This year because so many charities are struggling, I will make a toy or food donation on behalf of some of my clients. I know my clients will appreciate the gesture, and with so many people in need, this is a way for me to stretch my donation dollars too. To make the donation more personal, contact the client by phone or e-mail and ask for the name of their favorite nonprofit organization and make a donation to that charity in the client's name. Follow-up with a card noting the donation.

4) Present a homemade gift of cookies, chocolates or other gourmet treats that they can share. This is particularly nice if you do business with a group of people from one company.

5) Buy a gift card. If you know a particular client loves Starbucks or a local coffee shop or espresso stand like Kelly Latte's or Kona Kai (Kent, WA), buy a gift card in whatever amount you deem suitable. This way your client will think of you the next few times he or she purchases their favorite latte or mocha!

6) Offer free products or services as a thank you. If you aren't in a position this year to purchase gifts for your clients, consider offering them free products or services. Send them a gift certificate or coupon noting the freebie (Good for one free hour of marketing consultation to be used as you wish by May 1, 2009) along with a card thanking them for doing business with you.

7) Treat your client to lunch for a year-end wrap-up meeting, complimentary consultation or just to say thanks. If you space these out throughout the holiday season, this can be an affordable way to say thank you while also creating the opportunity to generate more business.

However you choose to remember your clients this holiday season, make sure the focus is on the client, not on you. Let them know you appreciate their business and hope to continue the relationship into the New Year.

Happy Holidays from the Virtually Yourz team - Dana, Gail & DeAnn!

Dana Blozis

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Marketing Wisdom: Marketing is a process

Marketing is not an event, but a process . . . It has a beginning, a middle, but never an end, for it is a process. You improve it, perfect it, change it, even pause it.
But you never stop it completely.

- Jay Conrad Levinson