Why Pick One When You Can Pick Five?

BkBE92PCQAAiMqzOne thing I often do for clients is review content and make suggestions. Sometimes it doesn’t take much, a few minor tweaks here or there. Sometimes we need to make some big changes to ensure that potential clients know WHAT they do and why. And more often than not, we’re cleaning up the content to make it tighter and more efficient. Too often we take five words to say what could be said in one or two.

Take a look at your content, does that giant paragraph LOOK like something you want to read? Does it make sense? Does it use twice as many words as necessary to say the same thing? It may be time for a refresh.

Taking Advantage of Kindness

IMG_6058Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about offering up your time, and people taking advantage of it. I spoke to a group a couple of months ago, and a few people asked to have coffee and meet with me afterwards. I said yes, and when I met with one person, he chit chatted the time away, and didn’t take much advantage of the opportunity he had to pick my brain. As we were leaving, he mentioned getting together again in a couple of weeks to brainstorm on our businesses. WHAT? Sorry dude, that ship has sailed. We aren’t at the same stage of our companies, and I have people in my life for that. Plus, you aren’t a good use of my time.

Sure it’s harsh, but let’s be honest: it’s true.

About a year ago I met with someone starting a company as a favor to a friend. Cool company, not a lot of use for my business, but I did refer this company to a client of mine. My client had 2 calls with them, and then they asked to meet in person with my client. My client emailed me and said “I’m busy, I understand their business now, and will refer if it makes sense. Is it Ok to say no?” YES, it’s okay to say no!

Folks, if you need something from another business owner, make sure you maximize the time you have with them. Don’t expect that they want to meet with you more than once, and if all they offer is 30 minutes on the phone, TAKE IT. I mentioned this in my blog post on Tuesday as well, this article explains my sentiments probably better than I am today. If you aren’t willing to pay for it, please assume we aren’t willing to give it away.

Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy learning about new companies and there will be times when I am looking for a specific kind of company to work with. BUT, I’m busy running my business. And unless you want to hire me to help you with your business, I have work to do!

3 Articles You Should Read This Week

photoOver the past few days, thanks to Twitter, I’ve come across some great articles worth sharing. In case you don’t keep up on my Twitter feed, here’s a couple of articles I think are worth noting…

1. Yelp- those Bastards!- Most of my small business clients use Yelp, and we always talk about how cautious to be, and that they may hold good reviews, and post more negative reviews. Evidently we aren’t all making it up, even if Yelp says it’s not their fault.

2. Stop Giving it Away- this was a great blog post about not giving your time away for free. I’ve been feeling this way for a while, and if you are too, or you are in a position where you need help or to “pick someone’s brain” make sure you’re being respectful.

3. Me Vs. You – a great post about pronouns in your newsletter and website. Good reminders to us all.

Bonus! LinkedIn Business Page Changes- okay, this isn’t at all as sexy, but as a small business owner, it’s good to make sure you know the Services page is going away. LinkedIn continues to not be very helpful or play nice with others, so we’ll see how this goes.

Marketing Terms Decoded: Brand vs. Marketing

Today’s Guest Post is from Maria Ross! Maris is a brand strategist, speaker and author who believes cash flow and creativity are not mutually exclusive. She is creator of Red Slice, advising start-ups, small businesses and entrepreneurs on how to craft irresistible brands. Maria’s latest book, the 2nd edition of her Amazon best-seller, Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget launched on April 1. Below is an adapted excerpt for your reading pleasure.

BrandingBasics-2ndEdition-Front -150x232Along with believing brand is the same thing as a logo, people often confuse branding with public relations and marketing tactics, such as press releases, advertising, social media—even price promotions. In reality, brand forms the foundation of your marketing plan: it shouldn’t come after the fact. Only by clarifying your Brand Strategy are you able to make the right decisions, such as if and where to advertise, whether to buy a booth at a particular event, and where to send press releases.

 Branding and Marketing Are Not the Same

If any of you suffered through business school as I did, you learned about the Four P’s of Marketing—product, price, place, and promotion:

1.  Product (or Service): What do we sell and how do we make it?

2.  Price: How much do we charge for it?

3.  Place: Where and how do we get it to our end consumers?

4.  Promotion: How do we get people to know it exists and convince them to buy it?

So, broadly, marketing is an umbrella term for bringing products or services to “market” and effectively selling them. Too often, small business owners only think of marketing in terms of the fourth P, Promotion. But marketing encompasses so much more. Subcategories that fall under marketing can include areas such as advertising, events, marketing research, media/press relations, lead generation, website, search engine marketing, social media, pricing, competitive analysis – just to name a few.

Organizations roll all the associated strategies and tactics within these subcategories into a collective marketing plan. The marketing plan covers the tactics and themes each group will execute during the year: Which ads will be placed, where will those ads go, and what will be the main messages? On which markets will we focus? What products will we promote at different times of the year? What is the product release schedule? What is the competition doing this year? What customer-acquisition campaigns will take place? Which events will we sponsor?

Brand forms the foundation of your overall marketing strategy but is not the same thing as a marketing strategy. Brand touches much more than marketing and can serve as a litmus test for your operations, hiring practices, distribution strategy, and partner selection.

People often believe advertising and branding are inter-changeable and mean the same thing. They don’t. Advertising is a marketing tactic based on the Brand Strategy. Advertising is but one vehicle to communicate your brand message to the world. Brand positioning should be thought out before you create an advertisement.

The beauty of owning a small business is that things are far less complicated and you have a huge opportunity to get this right where the big guys might trip up. If you’re new and just launching a business, this is the perfect time to build your Brand Strategy. Determine the brand before you create a marketing plan, so you won’t spend precious time and money chasing your tail.

As a small business owner, you don’t need a complicated marketing plan. A Brand Strategy can show you what you do and don’t need. Being small means you’re close to your customers and all decisions are made by you. This means you call the shots and can ensure all the pieces align. Being nimble and small are strengths and can help you build your brand the right way from the start.

Networking with Yellow Dog In April

imgresHappy April folks! Spring is in the air and it’s time to stop hibernating and get out and network! Here’s a few places you’ll find me this month, and some suggestions of other cool events I think you may want to check out!

Friday, April 11th

Social Media Lunch Hosted by King5

My pal Tracy Taylor is emceeing this event that’s already sold out (sorry!). If you want to learn more about how the news outlets keep up with Social Media, this will be a great event!

Friday, April 11th – Sunday April 13

International Public Debate Association National Tournament

Remember when I went to Arkansas last year to judge a debate tournament? Evidently I wasn’t too offensive and I’ve been invited back with the Whitworth Forensics Team to bring the National Championship to Washington! This year the tournament is at Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro, I can’t WAIT!

Thursday, April 17th

eWomenNetwork Luncheon

You know my love of eWomenNetwork! This is a fantastic organization for women in business who are looking to grow their business, get education, and have a community of like minded people in their corner. This organization has been instrumental in Yellow Dog’s success!

Friday, April 25th

Whitworth Pirates in Puget Sound Alumni Event!

As you know, I’m a proud graduate of Whitworth University in Spokane. We’ve launched a Western Washington alumni chapter. If you are an alumni of Whitworth, we’d love to have you join us (Leonard Oakland AND a bar, it’s going to be great!)

March Pop Culture Roundup

Untitled-111I know it’s April First, and no this isn’t a joke, I was on vacation last week, and wanted to wait till after I got caught up on a few pop culture things before letting you know what I loved about March. So, as per the usual, here’s what’s made me happy in Pop Culture this month!

Music

Pharrell Williams- Girl. WOW this album is amazing. I’ve  liked Pharrell for years, and this album does NOT dissapoint. Move beyond Happy, which is so dang catchy, and the rest of the album is the perfect driving music (or sitting by the pool in Vegas with your family…)

TV

We’re now at the season finale portion of the year, and two great ones happened this month…

Brooklyn 99- this show is so funny, and although I didn’t think it deserved the Golden Globe for best comedy, it has proved its own this season. I loved the cliffhangers they left us with, and look forward to it’s season return in the fall!

The Walking Dead- okay what happened on Sunday? Cannibals? Holy cow that was a great cliffhanger- I’m just mad I have to wait 6 months for it to return!

Books & Comics

Visitation Street- Okay, I actually kind of hated this book. It’s a great premise of two girls who float off on a raft and one girl goes missing, and the other doesn’t know what happened. It didn’t keep my attention and then wrapped up a little to neatly for my taste…

Ms. Marvel- this may be my new favorite comic book. It’s only 2 issues in so still time to catch up easily. A Muslim female super hero- I can get behind this!

The IllegitimatesWhat if a James Bond-esque character died? What if 5 of the women he slept with had kids who possess dad’s skills? I really am enjoying this new series from Taran Killiam (of SNL)!

A Quick Reminder About Voicemail…

imagesSlow down. Stop. Slow down. Pretend you’re talking to a kid, one that just learned how to answer the phone AND write.
I got a voicemail today from a company that said if I had questions to call them. She spoke so quickly, then repeated, that I couldn’t have gotten the number if I wanted it.
If you want a chance at people replying to your voicemail, slow down. Tell me why you’re calling, tell me WHY you want me to call you back, and SLOWLY leave your phone number. Then leave your number again, and your name.
I won’t lie- my biggest obstacle to calling someone back is if the phone number they called from isn’t the number they want me to call them back at. I am VERY lazy. If I can hit “return call” I just might do that. But if I have to write down a number and then dial it? I’ll have to really like you and want to talk to you for that to happen…

Ask Yellow Dog: The 2 Company Conundrum

Hank's Ready to Listen!Occasionally people will email me with  a sales & marketing challenge they need a bit of help with. In the latest edition we’re talking about running 2 companies and not confusing your network in the process…

I have two separate, but related companies. My questions is: I obviously can’t market one product at some events and another at another event, but I have two cards and think it is weird. They are two separate companies.  Sometimes I hand out both cards to different people at the same meeting. Is that weird?

Promote what sounds right to you depending on the event you are at. The fact that you are getting referrals instead of finding your own clients is AWESOME, most of my work comes from referrals as well, and it’s so nice to not have to go out and hunt for the jobs! So, spending time at networking events and with people who are actively referring you business is a good place to be (and your target market!).

I think having two cards is no problem-  some people will be interested in one business, but have no need/interest in the other business. When you are giving your elevator pitch at an event, just pick ONE of these two companies to “pitch” but keep listening to what everyone else at the table is saying and doing. This where FOLLOW UP is key. “hey great to meet you, I didn’t get a chance to mention this to you at the event, but I also do…” That’s if you don’t get a chance to talk more with them over lunch or afterwards.

If you have a burning sales or marketing question- you can always Ask Yellow Dog!

Fake Out Emails

In the past 24 hours I’ve received emails that aren’t in an approved newsletter program, but are obviously sent to multiple people. The first email stated at the bottom “if you’d rather not get this kind of news from us, just let us know and we’ll unsubscribe you.” And that’s fine. I emailed the person, who’s a colleague, and mentioned throwing it into a newsletter program. They said they want people to open it if it comes directly from their email program. Well, okay.

The second email came from an insurance sales person (always my favorite, right after financial planner emails…) and the first line was cheesy and obviously they did an email merge program for “Hey Elizabeth” and then onto the canned “call me so I can sell you stuff.” No opt out option, and nothing personalized.

If you want me to give you my money, spend some effort and time being personal, OR be honest. I send out my monthly newsletter that is obviously going to a lot of people in my network. But there’s no hiding it. If I want to reach out to you individually, or to a smaller group, I’ll make sure to be a real person to you, in hopes you’ll be a real person to me.

Otherwise, you’re burning bridges you didn’t know might be there.

It’s Never Too Late


I just got an email from a client of mine. For the past few months when we meet I make the same suggestions, and the client agrees it’s a good next step. Then the following month, nothing has happened and we talk about it, client seems on board, you see where this is going…

And so today, the client did what we’ve been talking about. I don’t remember what I said at our meeting this week but we finally “got over the hump” and then the client said “I just hope it’s not too late.”

It’s NEVER too late. Just be honest with folks, you can spot a liar, we all can. “I’m so sorry I dropped the ball on following up with you,” is a perfectly acceptable response. If it’s a newsletter you stopped doing for a few months, no problem, just pick it up again, no explanation needed (unless something happened and you want to explain it).

When you’re ready, your target market is ready too. Sure you may have missed one or two clients because you drug your feet, but you’ll get there, it’s not too late to start. I promise.