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1 Monday Guest Stars

Here are your guest contributors for Monday’s edition of the Duct Tape Marketing Small Business Week iPad Giveaway.

Read each of the five posts that follow and click our entry form link to match the guest star with their post.

Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan consults and speaks professionally with Fortune 100 and 500 companies like PepsiCo, General Motors, Microsoft, and more, on the future of business communications, and social software technologies. He is a New York Times bestselling co-author of Trust Agents, and a featured monthly columnist at Entrepreneur Magazine. Chris’s blog, [chrisbrogan.com], is in the Top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150.

Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel is President of Twist Image — an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. His first book, Six Pixels of Separation, named after his successful Blog and Podcast is a business and marketing bestseller. Follow Mitch here: www.twistimage.com/blog.

Anita Campbell

Anita Campbell serves as CEO of Anita Campbell Associates Ltd, a woman-owned consulting firm helping companies and organizations reach the small business market.  She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Small Business Trends, an award-winning online publication.  She hosts Small Business Trends Radio, where she interviews other small business experts. 

Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the president and founder of Palo Alto Software, founder of bplans.com, and a co-founder of Borland International, author of books and software on business planning, Stanford MBA, father of five, married 41 years.  His latest book is The Plan-As-You-Go-Business-Plan.  He can be found blogging at his main blog Planning Startups Stories.

Pamela Slim

Pamela Slim is a seasoned coach and writer who helps frustrated employees in corporate jobs break out and start their own business. Her blog, Escape from Cubicle Nation, is one of the top career and marketing blogs on the web.  She is also an author of Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur.

2 What is a Marketing Strategy and How Can I Get One 1

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.
Pamela Slim

Pamela Slim is a seasoned coach and writer who helps frustrated employees in corporate jobs break out and start their own business. Her blog, Escape from Cubicle Nation, is one of the top career and marketing blogs on the web. She is also an author of Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur.

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 1

Ask a new business owner what his marketing strategy is, and he will most likely say “sell as many products as possible to as many people as possible.”

While optimism is a good quality in an entrepreneur, this definition is a recipe for disaster. When you are unclear whom you are trying to reach, you will stumble from one marketing tactic to another, diving into Facebook with zeal one week, Tweeting like a fool the next, and, in a final act of desperation, pitch your friends and neighbors as if you were a teenager begging for a last-minute date to the prom.

An effective marketing strategy defines:

• the detailed profile of the ideal person you are trying to reach (age, profession, gender, race, income level, hobbies, political views, attitude)
• their hopes, fears, needs, desires, challenges and problems
• the particular places where they hang out in person or online
• the books, blogs, newspapers, magazines and trade publications they read
• the people and companies they most admire
• the tools they use to connect with others (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, professional associations, forums)
• the specific outcomes you are trying to achieve (establish trust, build followers or online presence, get referrals, sell products, recruit evangelists, attract partners)
• the metrics you will use to track progress

Once these components of the strategy are defined, you can create a tactical plan that outlines the specific activities you will engage in each week in order to achieve your outcomes.

A good marketing strategy leads to specific to-do lists like:

1. Contact 5 board members of the Atlanta Association of Gluten-Free Libertarian Physicians
2. Write guest post for the Gluten Free and Proud blog
3. Attend the Living Gluten Free lecture at the Atlanta Whole Foods Market

If all of this sounds like too much work, you could always revert back to the standard marketing practice of optimistic business owners: stare at your phone and pray it will ring.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 2

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.
Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the president and founder of Palo Alto Software, founder of bplans.com, and a co-founder of Borland International, author of books and software on business planning, Stanford MBA, father of five, married 41 years. His latest book is The Plan-As-You-Go-Business-Plan. He can be found blogging at his main blog Planning Startups Stories.

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 2

Years ago the marketing plan was a lot of Ps: price, place promotion, and so on. I prefer the Ms: market, message, medium, measurement, management. And you care about it because of the last M, money.

The market is about target markets. It’s like sculpture. You start with a big block of everything, and what makes it beautiful is what you take away. Michelangelo started with a block of marble and ended up with David. So for a restaurant, to take one example, if you try to appeal to everybody, you’re doomed. Instead, you target foodies, or families with young kids, or office workers. Not everybody. Food, service, location, and pricing optimize for specific target groups. Visualize and imagine your ideal target buyer.

The message should match the target market. Understand benefits. Don’t talk about quick and inexpensive if you’re targeting a high-end market. Understand what your benefits are — much more than features — and focus the message you want to deliver. The secret is to please and attract your special targets instead of promising everything to everybody.

The medium has to match both the market and the message. Don’t count on social media to reach retirees or mainstream television to reach urban intellectuals. Put your message where your market will find it.

Develop measurement to set your marketing goals so you can track and measure your progress. Look for numbers like sales, units, leads, presentations, page views, downloads, and conversion rates.

The management happens with the following up on the metrics. You track plan vs. actual results and look carefully at the difference. That leads to revisions and course corrections.

Which brings us to money, the reason why you want a marketing plan: better marketing planning means better marketing management which means more sales and managed, optimized marketing spending.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 3

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.
Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan consults and speaks professionally with Fortune 100 and 500 companies like PepsiCo, General Motors, Microsoft, and more, on the future of business communications, and social software technologies. He is a New York Times bestselling co-author of Trust Agents, and a featured monthly columnist at Entrepreneur Magazine. Chris’s blog, [chrisbrogan.com], is in the Top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150.

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 3

Marketing for small business is about satisfying wants. Most of us are lucky enough to be in the want business, not the need business. Marketing is connecting a buyer to a want. And strategy? Strategy is your approach. It’s how you get from where you are to where you’re going.

You have to answer six questions to write a simple marketing strategy:

WHO IS YOUR BUYER?

Write out the persona of your buyer: who she is, what her other challenges are besides the ones your product solves, what else she might need. Think like that all the time.

DO YOU HAVE ACCESS TO THAT BUYER?

How do you get to them? You can try to buy your way in with ads, you can set up your web presence to grow your way in, and you can use social media to communicate your way in. You need to get to your buyer, and you need to get to the plural, not the one.

WHAT DOES SHE WANT?

This is harder to answer than not. And no, your product isn’t the answer.

HOW DO YOU HELP YOUR BUYERS BUY?

Do they need more proof? Do they need special payment methods? Do they need guarantees? This is an oft-overlooked part of a marketing strategy.

HOW DO I REACH OUT?

Where and how will you connect with these buyers? Online? Social sites? It’s up to you.

HOW DO YOU GET REFERRALS?

Referrals are gold in most businesses. People don’t buy all the time, but they can refer every week. Make this part of every plan.

From here, you’ve got the bare bones to write a simple strategy. Test variations and grow from it. It’s how I do it.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 4

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.
Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel is President of Twist Image — an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. His first book, Six Pixels of Separation, named after his successful Blog and Podcast is a business and marketing bestseller. Follow Mitch here: www.twistimage.com/blog.

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 4

Without a lighthouse, how would ships (prior to GPS) know where landfall was? How would they know that they were headed in the right direction? What would have been their beacon? Think of your Marketing Strategy as a lighthouse… and not a GPS system. Businesses often make the mistake of confusing the two. See, a GPS will give you the exact directions to your exact destination with turn-by-turn accuracy, and while it would be nice if you could create a document/map for your business like this, it simply is not realistic in this day and age. A true Marketing Strategy is simply: a lighthouse. It’s a vision for where you business needs to be and how you’re going to get there (but we’re open to tweak and adjust on the journey).

A great Marketing strategy is built in two parts: the “why?” and the “how?” Knowing “why” you’re doing something (the core strategy and vision) will lead you to the “how” – or the tactics (the stuff you’re going to do to make the vision “come to life”). A great way to start, would be to ask some questions and to spend the time critically thinking (and writing down!) the answers.

Here are some great questions to get your Marketing Strategy rolling:

  • What is the purpose of our business?
  • Why do people love buying from us?
  • If we could get them to buy more, what would we want them to buy and how much more money should they spend?
  • How much of our sales are we willing to put into our Marketing?
  • What are we willing to pay to find a brand new consumer?
  • What are we willing to pay to keep an existing customer?
  • What is the life-long value of a customer to us?
  • What would be the ideal Marketing mix? (how much traditional vs. new media makes sense)?
  • If we created a calendar, when we spend the most of our marketing budget and how would we spend it?
  • Are there other new marketing opportunities that we should be looking at?

Start with those questions and as the answers become crystallized, try to format your thoughts into a serious plan (if you do a simple online search for “marketing strategy,” you’ll find many templates that you can “adopt” as your own).

Always remember, without a strategy, you’re just another ship sailing in the night… destination unknown.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

1 What is Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 5

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.
Anita Campbell

Anita Campbell serves as CEO of Anita Campbell Associates Ltd, a woman-owned consulting firm helping companies and organizations reach the small business market. She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Small Business Trends, an award-winning online publication. She hosts Small Business Trends Radio, where she interviews other small business experts.

What is a Marketing Strategy and How Do I Get One 5

A lot of things in business sound more intimidating than they are. If you jump right in and “do” they become much easier.

Creating a marketing strategy is one of those things. A marketing strategy is nothing more than planning out how you intend to use marketing to achieve your business goals. You start by identifying the overall goals for your business. Then you break it down into marketing activities to support the business goals.

Here’s an example: let’s say one of your business goals for the year is to increase renewal business from existing customers by 15%. To develop your marketing strategy, think about the marketing efforts it would take to get more customers to renew. Maybe that involves a customer appreciation program to reach out to every existing customer personally at least 120 days before their contract comes due. Or maybe it involves creating and communicating a special pricing plan, designed to secure early renewals and lock in a longer renewal term. These and other types of marketing approaches will directly help increase renewals. Therefore, they become your marketing strategy.

Once you have decided up on a broad strategy to achieve your business goals, you break your strategy down into smaller chunks of activity (such as milestones and tactics). Breaking it down into smaller activities and next steps is important if you want to achieve the strategy. Nothing spells death to a strategy faster than staying broad and vague.

Some people go to great lengths to define terms like “strategy,” “objectives,” and “tactics.” For most of us in small businesses, we don’t need to get obsessive about the strategy process. For most of us it’s more important to just dig in and start working on marketing strategy, and not make it too complicated or intimidating for our staffs.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

The Soft White Underbelly of Referral Marketing

This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest post featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010

Not that I want to be a wet blanket during referral week, but sometimes there’s room for reminders when things are not necessarily all that rosy. I love referrals and referral marketing, and I believe in the cause of referral week. Still, it’s good to keep the full spectrum in the picture. There are some dangers there.

1. Don’t recommend without knowing who you’re recommending

Back in the early days of Palo Alto Software we included a list of business planning consultants on bplans.com, our free business planning resource. The listing was free for users and consultants, and we certainly had no resources to check and validate the information included. So we offered it as a useful resource to some with some obvious buyer beware and check references advisories.

One day eight years ago I got a call from somebody saying a consultant on that list had taken $3,000 from him and never completed a business plan. He was blaming us for listing the consultant. I knew nothing about him and next to nothing about the consultant. Although we had put everything we could on the site to make it clear we were listing, rather than recommending, how do you think I felt? How satisfied do you think our customer was to be told that using somebody on our list was his fault, not ours? Technically, we were right. Commercially, we lost a customer. And we didn’t know the people on the list. Bad move. Business mistake.

Another time I got a similar call from a different customer making almost the same complaint about a different consultant. That second time, unlike the first, I knew that consultant. He had done business planning for an old college friend of mine, and my friend was very happy with the results. He was involved with getting several of our bplans.com sample companies financed. He was a good professional consultant.

So this second time, I called the accused consultant. And he said he’d been trying to give the client back the initial money because he couldn’t stand working with him. The client, my friend said, had been exaggerating the truth in the plan, had “sketchy ethics,” and, in a nutshell, wasn’t somebody he wanted to work with. But the client wouldn’t take the money back, because he wanted the consultant to get him financed, not to give him the money back.

The second story was better than the first, but neither is much fun. We pulled the consultant listings off of bplans.com as a result.

2. Don’t risk dollars for nickels and dimes

The saving grace for us in both of the two stories above was that we weren’t taking any money. That makes a huge difference. When things go bad (and sometimes they do) your situation is way worse if you’ve been taking money for referrals. In that case, maybe you have legal language like disclaimers and all, so you might not be legally liable (I’m not an attorney, I don’t know).

I’m always amazed when I see experts whose time is worth hundreds of dollars per hour getting involved with small shares of add-on products worth a few extra dollars. Does it make sense to stake your professional reputation on what amounts to as much as a free lunch every so often? I don’t think so. I say recommend cleanly, without financial interest, to preserve your credibility as an expert.

3. Don’t call revenue sharing or comarketing referral business

I think this is basic ethics, and doesn’t need saying. Still, especially during referral week, let’s agree that when you get a cut or a commission that’s not a referral. That’s a revenue share or a sale. And it’s not fair to pretend you’re just recommending somebody out of good will or generosity.

Tim is the president and founder of Palo Alto Software, founder of bplans.com, and a co-founder of Borland International.

4 OpenForum Moves and Expands

One of the partnerships I’m most proud of is my long standing relationship with OPEN from American Express. I’ve said for so long that I believe OPEN is the entrepreneur of credit cards. I’ve been contributing content on the OPENForum content hub since it’s inception and this past week OPEN made a bold move to make the site even better by adding a networking feature that allows business owners to connect.

You’ll still find great content, in fact along with my regular contributions, I’ve been able to secure contributions for the marketing section from well-known experts such as Rohit Bhargava, author of Personality Not Included, Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer for Marketing Profs, Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software, Susan Wilson Solovic, founder of SBTV.com, and Scott Ginsberg of Hello My Name is Scott fame. This line-up of pros will provide you with a one stop information shop to help you build your business.

Just this past week the site featured article on How to Use Social Media to Promote an Event, Pushing Information Out to Your Team, and Driving Your Business with a Higher Purpose.

The video below walks you through some of the highlights of the new site. Please come have look.

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14 Thinking of Starting a Business?

On Wednesday, May 20th at 9am PDT/Noon EDT I will be joined for a live webinar panel discussion by Ken Yancey, Jr, CEO of SCORE, Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software, and Rich Sloan author of StartUpNation to talk about starting a business. Collectively, this group has poured over thousands of business plans, seen great successes and great failures and advises many a fledgling start-up on the strategies, resources and regulations involved in going out there on your own.

ken yancey jrtim berryrich sloan

Register for this session here

I believe that this might actually be one of the best times in history to start a business. If you need that little nudge or have decided to jump in with both feet, come learn from the pros how to do it right.

This is the fifth in a series of five webinars brought to you by HP, creators of MarketSplash and the Creative Studio – online tools to make your marketing simple, professional and affordable

Our discussion will center on the following, but we want to hear from you too. Come join us.

  • Why right now is a great time to start-up
  • Thrills and pitfalls of business ownership
  • Resources and regulations
  • How to find a big idea/innovation
  • Businesses to start right now
  • How to pitch for money
  • Marketing a start-up
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2 Social Media Systems Continued

Last week I wrote about my way to manage the social media beast and then asked other active social media folks to do that same. Today’s system overview comes by way of Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software blogging at the Huffington Post. Tim’s take is affably title Down the Social Media Rabbit Hole

Tim’s take is so perfect – and one of the reasons I wanted to pursue this – take heart, Tim asks as many questions are proposes solutions and that’s the way most of us, even self or otherwise professed experts of this stuff feel.

For me, though, it’s not so systematic. In fact, my 18-month journey into the soft white underbelly of social media is more like delightful, alluring, distracting, disorderly chaos. I’m 61. If this post had a sound track, it would be White Rabbit, by Jefferson Airplane. In fact, I just put that onto iTunes, while I write this. ~ Tim Berry

Let’s keep this up – who else to we need to harass into sharing their system – have you shared your system?