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    YouTube Marketing Mistakes Women Business Leaders Should Avoid

    May 25th, 2011

    It’s easy for women business leaders and entrepreneurs to become enchanted by the possibilities of being part of a YouTube sensation. Who wouldn’t become allured by the idea of instant YouTube fame and success for your company or product? I think that it’s great to set the bar high, but I also know that the best things come from hard work. Preparation is part of the equation. Plan your foray into YouTube videos carefully, and you will achieve greater success.

    I found some great practical YouTube tips in an article by Amy-Mae Elliot, Top 5 YouTube Marketing Mistakes, that bears repeating. Here are my thoughts on Amy’s suggestions:

    Your expectations are unrealistic
    I think a lot of businesses expect that they can post a video and thousands of people will watch it, and it’ll become a YouTube sensation. Amy feels the same way and suggests you create a promotion plan before posting your video. Think it through as you would any promotional campaign and come up with strategies, tools and ideas for promoting it beforehand. Use social networking and invite friends and family to help you get it noticed.

    You’re thinking too small
    While it’s true the chances of your video becoming a viral hit is remote, don’t rule it out, says Amy. You don’t have to be a big-league player to make a popular video. Many of the biggest viral videos were posted by individuals rather than large corporations. Amy suggests you give it a shot even if you don’t have lots of money to devote to the production or promotion.

    You’re using your video as a commercial
    YouTube isn’t the place to warehouse all your old marketing or PR videos, says Amy. It’s a social environment and as such, it’s all about being social, engaging and a little different. Think about ways to let your company’s personality shine through, and make it fun. Amy notes that your YouTube video is not the format for a hard-sell sales pitch, either.

    You’re forgetting other platforms
    Amy notes that while YouTube is certainly the biggest video platform right now, it isn’t the only one available. She points out that to leverage word-of-mouth interest in your video, you should certainly mention it via Twitter and Facebook. But think about posting it on the lesser-known video platforms like Vimeo, Flikr, Blip.tv and underdog yfrog.

    Basing your success on the number of views
    A lot of people will have you think that the only important video statistic is the number of times your video is viewed. Amy notes that other metrics may have more meaning, for instance, how many times your video was shared or how long someone spent watching your video.

    The bottom line is to think about what you hope to achieve with your videos before you start. If you approach creating videos with a “shotgun” approach, you’ll miss your target more often than hitting it!




    Top 5 Facebook Strategies for Women Business Leaders

    May 18th, 2011

    As a woman business leader and owner of a strategic marketing company, I am constantly faced with protecting my clients’ brands through every channel and point of contact. And while I recommend my clients create Facebook pages for their businesses, promoting and preserving your brand doesn’t end with putting up a Facebook page. Here are some really helpful ways to use Facebook pages effectively, excerpted from Adele Cooper’s recent article, “Top 5 Things for Facebook Success.”

    1. Promote, promote, promote
      It’s great that you have a Facebook page, but what are you doing with it? Get in the mindset of thinking of ways to get the word out to your current customers, says Adele. There are many ways to do that. You can create a Facebook badge on your website that links to your webpage, create a “like” box on your website that allows customers to like your Facebook page from your website and add links to your Facebook page in all of your correspondence with customers, including invoices, e-newsletters, updates, and specials.
    2. Publish content they want
      Having a Facebook page doesn’t mean people will automatically visit your page in droves. You’ll have to provide something they want and can’t get elsewhere, and according to Adele, that’s where content makes a difference. Suggestions include writing in a more personal tone, posting only when you have something interesting to say or a new product or special to promote or just add something related to your product that you think is newsworthy or funny. Your customers will appreciate the touchy-feely aspect of your page.
    3. Talk to your customers
      Another great way to get more activity on your Facebook page is by encouraging comments from your customers, says Adele. When you respond to your customers’ comments, they’ll feel a real connection with your company or product. And once others see your responses, they’ll be more likely to join in as well.  Post calls for action like product reviews or questions, and make sure to answer negative comments promptly and without sounding defensive. Check out Facebook “Page Insights” to see your page’s statistics, and tailor your content to get the best response rates.
    4. A picture is worth 1,000 words
      You wouldn’t want to write a post that’s 1,000 words, but in addition to keeping your posts short and to the point, adding pictures, art, or video is a sure way to increase viewership. Adele notes photos and videos are a great way to make your pages more interactive and create added interest and incentives to return. Ask your viewers to post their own photos of your product or service and comment on them.
    5. Remember to update regularly
      Nothing is worse than a stale, static Facebook page. With smart phones gaining widespread use, it’s a simple matter to add a Facebook app to your device. Once installed, you can connect with your Facebook page anytime, add photos, make comments and post updates. So, even if you can’t get to your desktop computer, there is no excuse to let your Facebook page to gather dust.

    Facebook can be a great tool to keep and build loyal, interested customers. But remember that it’s a living, breathing entity and needs regular attention to get the most out of it. There are also things you should avoid doing on your Facebook page, so please see my blog post on Facebook mistakes: “Facebook Marketing Mistakes Women Business Leaders Should Avoid.”



    How Women Business Leaders Can Create Content That Engages

    May 5th, 2011

    The first step toward creating great content is understanding your customers and how, why, and when they will want to connect with you, your product or service. Once you have this in place, you have unlocked the key to creating content that will resonate on a personal level with your target audience.

    I found an article by Ruth Shipley, “How to Create Content that Engages Prospects and Customers,” that I’d like to share with other women business leaders and entrepreneurs. Ruth offers some good content creation ideas. Here are my thoughts on her excellent suggestions.

    Show, don’t tell
    Ruth notes that everyone wants to be successful, so it makes sense that customers want to see what your product or service has done for others. Case studies are a good way to showcase your success stories, says Ruth. I’d like to suggest using visuals to add impact to your content, so make sure you include photos, videos, slideshows or other visuals for maximum effect.

    Stoke the campfire
    To spark your content creativity, Ruth conjures up memories of stories told around a campfire. The best stories were those that you wanted to run off and share with your friends. I agree that the more “shareable” your content, the more readers you’ll attract. But just be sure it’s relatable and useful to a wide audience.

    Play to your strengths
    Not everyone has a talent for written content, so if you don’t, says Ruth, try something else. Produce a podcast, host how-to webinars, or interview a client on a video camera and post it. Today’s audience is used to seeing short snippets that are visual and need very little explanation.

    Speak human
    Ruth suggests you ditch the jargon and go for a conversational tone in your online content. I can say from my own experience that it’s easy to get caught up in technical business-speak. Most people respond well to easy-to-understand content that does not require a dictionary or glossary of terms. The less work for your readers, the better.

    Most companies have a wealth of information sitting idle, says Ruth. Think about ways you can re-use that information or repurpose it. Ruth suggests taking a white paper and turning it into multiple blogs. I think you could go a step further and offer “how-to” blogs or video blogs. Or, ask others to act as “guest” bloggers and suggest readers add their own commentary to get a conversation going.

    Communication is an area in which women business leaders and entrepreneurs excel, so with that advantage we can take the lead in helping our companies produce content that matters. Here are some more blogs I’ve written on creating great content: Successful Blogging Tips for Women Business Leaders and 5 Ways to Reuse Content Wisely for Women Business Leaders.


    What Famous Women Business Leaders Know About Success

    April 28th, 2011

    As a woman business leader and entrepreneur, I am inspired by stories of other successful women entrepreneurs.  It’s one of my favorite topics to blog about because it not only inspires others, but it also reignites the fire inside me that I sometimes neglect in the pursuit of daily life!

    I found this article, “Three Things Famous Women Entrepreneurs Know” by Kim DeYoung, to be very down-to-earth and insightful. Here are my thoughts on Kim’s article:

    Believe in yourself
    Kim likes this quote she attributes to Mary Kay Ash, of Mary Kay cosmetics fame: “You can go as far as your mind lets you. Whatever you believe, remember you can achieve.”  But Kim also notes that it’s important not to limit yourself by believing what others tell you or have told you about yourself that prevents you from going where you want to go.

    Have a support system
    Kim shares another quote from Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop and human rights activist, who said: “Success is simply a matter of finding and surrounding yourself with open-minded and clever souls who can take our own insanity and put it to good use.” I am not sure I agree with the idea that all entrepreneurs suffer from insanity, but I know that in my life, having a strong support system has made all the difference. Kim suggests that you learn to delegate to others in your support group. It might seem that you’re shirking your responsibilities, but allowing others to help lets you focus on the bigger picture.

    Be of service
    Kim suggests that rather than judge your success by how much you make or what your balance sheet shows, think about how you can be of service. This is something that Debbie Fields of Mrs. Fields Cookies believed in as well. Kim notes that Debbie’s focus was never on the sale – it was all about creating a meaningful long-term relationship with the customer. And don’t be fooled, customers or clients can tell when your interests are purely about the money.

    Throughout history, there have been many exceptional entrepreneurs, both male and female, to use as inspiration. And, the suggestions above are all valuable lessons that any entrepreneur can put to good use. I hope you’ll  look at some of my other blogs about success for even more inspiration.

    See my blog on Things Successful Women Business Leaders do Differently.





    Social Media for Women Business Leaders Means More than Just Marketing

    April 27th, 2011

    You can’t blink an eye these days without someone telling corporations they need to pay attention to social media. What these pundits are saying is correct, and as women business leaders and business owners, we need to re-evaluate our firm’s marketing philosophies if we’re going to play in the social media sandbox. But don’t think you can create a corporate or business Facebook page and Twitter account and be done with it.

    When I read this recent article by Philip Guarino on how companies can invest in social media, I wanted to pass along his great tips to my readers.

    Ask the tough questions
    You’ll need to take a hard look at your company’s interactions with its customers and clients, says Philip, and determine if its inviting customers to share and engage in feedback. If not, you are merely playing at being a part of the social media conversation and not an active participant. Philip is on target when he says companies simply must listen to the online community in order to understand what the customers are saying.

    Focus on content
    Content is another term that we’re seeing everywhere. And there is a reason for this saying; “Content is King.” These days, according to Philip, compelling and valuable content enables consumers to be spokespeople and promoters of your company’s brand in a way that traditional advertising cannot accomplish. He’s correct in that social media provides an immediate way to engage your audience, and they, in turn, can promote your content to even more potential customers.

    Listen to, follow, and integrate feedback
    This advice reiterates Philip’s first tip, which is to really listen to your customers’ feedback and use it to guide your company’s future plans. According to Philip, it is “The most important shift that must occur is in the board room.” In other words, using social media correctly can make your company’s brand stand out and help foster great customer relations in the process.

    I think the takeaway here is that this channel of marketing should be taken more seriously. Use it to listen to your customers, get feedback and re-evaluate your traditional campaigns. To stay viable, your marketing challenge today must be to shift your focus from the traditional marketing philosophy to a proactive, engaged, “online” corporate mentality.



    Why Women Business Leaders Shouldn’t Let Social Media Replace Corporate Websites

    March 24th, 2011

    As a woman business leader and founder of a strategic communications company, I work with my team to develop concentrated marketing campaigns for clients on a regular basis. As communications experts, we obviously focus on every aspect of strategic communications, including social media, in its various platforms. But even with all the “buzz” about social media, I agree with what Joe Pulizzi said in his recent blog– social media is a great marketing tool, but it should be used in addition to your website, not in place of it.

    He cites ideas gathered from a book by Shama Kabani, who has some great reasons why companies should never abandon their websites in favor of social media marketing. I agree, and I think Shama’s points are so well thought-out that I wanted to share them with you here:

    • Consumers may use social media to get initial reviews about your company or product, but your website is where they will make the final decision. I think Shama makes a very good point when she says, “Your website is the place where you SELL your products and services. Social media is the place where you introduce a potential customer to your brand.”
    • Your website is owned and controlled by you. Social media platforms aren’t owned or controlled by anyone! I don’t know if any of you have had your Facebook or Twitter accounts shut down for some unknown reason, but I have. And I can tell you it’s not fun. Shama is right when she says that the only thing you have complete control over is your website, so keep that in mind.
    • Social media is a great way to amplify your brand.  I agree with Shama’s observation, “For something to be amplified, it has to exist first.”  What she means is that your brand needs to be identifiable and accessible somewhere first, and only then can its existence be built upon through social media.
    • Your targeted marketing efforts are delivered to the audiences YOU choose. With social media, it’s the other way around. I understand Shama’s point when she notes that social media sometimes delivers a “partial” message and not the whole story. Social media buzz about a particular event might not give important details (for instance -  no one under 21 can attend), whereas a targeted marketing campaign is designed to reach a specific audience (like an e-mail blast sent individuals over-21 who responded to a survey, for instance).
    • Social media is a great viral promotional tool, but it’s not very deep. I think we can all agree on this point. How detailed can you get in 140 characters? It’s a challenge and not easy to do, so use social media as an opportunity to link to your website, your YouTube channel, downloadable content and more.  You’ll engage consumers further and draw them into your brand.

    I think you should definitely use social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and other emerging social media platforms to “assist” you in your brand marketing. But I also believe it would be a huge mistake to ignore what should really be the centerpiece of your corporate brand: your website.

    4 Essential Elevator Speech Tips for Women Business Leaders

    March 22nd, 2011

    4 Essential Elevator Speech Tips for Women Business Leaders

    An essential component of your communications plan is your elevator speech. Since not everyone knows what that is, here’s an excellent yet simple explanation I found in a blog by Jocelyn Broder: “An elevator speech is a brief description of your organization delivered in the time it takes to move between floors in an elevator.”

    A well-planned and well-crafted elevator speech is a business tool that every woman business leader should employ as a way to reinforce her company’s brand awareness. A good one will define not only what your firm does but also, if adopted company-wide, will assure that all people representing your firm are in sync. Here are some tips on how to craft your elevator speech that I adapted from Jocelyn’s blog.

    1. Include your company position statement
      In other words, says Jocelyn, explain to the listener why they should care about you or your organization. Make an emotional connection that will be remembered and is easily relatable.
    2. Be the first
      Or last, or biggest or oldest, says Jocelyn. What she means by this is that you need a “hook” that sets your company apart from the rest that makes it, and you, unique.
    3. What’s the benefit?
      People want to know what’s in it for them, and Jocelyn makes a good argument in pointing this out. Rather than make your elevator speech about YOU and your company, help your audience see the benefit your company provides them. Remember that people are egocentric and when you make it about THEM, they’ll probably pay more attention.
    4. Answer the “so what” question
      Jocelyn recommends ending your elevator speech in a way that answers the “so what” question before your listener can get it out. I think she’s right that most people will wonder why they should care about your company, so it’s a good thing to have the answer to that question at the ready.

    When you sit down to actually write your elevator speech, make sure that it conveys the voice and culture of the company. It’s important to have everyone on the same page when discussing your company, so I agree with Jocelyn’s suggestion to share the elevator speech with your staff. I do think it’s vital to maintain a consistent voice when talking about your company’s culture. For more on maintaining your company’s culture, please read my blog, Women Business Leaders: Grow Your Business but Keep Its Culture.

    Ways Women Business Leaders Can Boost Customer Communications

    March 17th, 2011

    Ways Women Business Leaders Can Boost Customer Communications

    For women business leaders, communicating with your customers in conversations that are meaningful to them will help you manage your brand and drive business.  Think about the salesperson at your favorite shoe store. They’ll engage you in conversations as soon as you walk through the door to find out what makes you tick. They’re using the conversation to get to know you (and sell some shoes, of course).  Then, when you’re ready to check out, they’ll compliment you on your purchase and offer to let you in on their “e-mail specials” and offers you won’t see anywhere except via the e-newsletters. Who could resist?

    This is a great way to engage your customers and create a reason for continuing the conversation. I think all businesses could do a better job of focusing on what their target audience wants to hear — and the manner in which they want to hear it. I recently read an article by Eric Groves on 10 Ways to Continue the Conversation with your Customers, and I think it offers some great tips.

    Here are some thoughts on his ideas:

    1. Treat your customers’ e-mail addresses with care. Assure customers you won’t sell them, share them, or take them for granted. This is a huge concern and businesses that address that concern upfront will be appreciated.
    2. Don’t send unsolicited e-mails. Have a reason for sending them. Don’t just toot your horn — offer something of value.
    3. Send an e-newsletter that offers free expert advice on a regular basis. Make it something your customer will look forward to receiving.
    4. Remember, your customer knows the difference between information and blatant advertising. Don’t cross that line or they’ll never trust you again.
    5. Don’t bore your customer with details. No one has time to read long, verbose articles. Get to the point and be brief.
    6. Make the subject line count. It can be funny, interesting or informative. But don’t mislead or trick them into opening a blatant ad.
    7. Continue the conversation by focusing on the customer. It should be all about them and not about you or your business. Offer them a way to talk with other customers and create an online community.
    8. Timing is everything. With that in mind, make sure you offer consistency but not too much of a good thing. It’s wonderful when customers wonder when they’ll hear from you again!
    9. Stay on top of your statistics. There are many tools available for tracking your communications, such as viewership stats, click-throughs, length of visits and more. Knowing what works and what doesn’t will help you fine-tune future correspondence.
    10. Be a subject matter expert. People love to receive information or tips they can’t get anywhere else. Give them what they want, and you’ll have loyal customers.

    The bottom line is to talk to your customers about their areas of interest rather than about your product or service. Create a platform where you are the expert not the “marketer” and you’ll find that your loyal customers will recommend your product and pass along your e-newsletters to their circles of influence.

    Women Business Leaders: Challenge Yourself to Try Something Different

    February 23rd, 2011

    In business, I have always tried to focus on the future by being proactive–and not thinking about “what was,” but on “what can be.” As a women entrepreneur and business leader, I have had to re-invent my businesses many times over, and in the process, take some real risks.  Could that mean you may have to try something disruptive, focus on the future and leave behind “what was” to really embrace the future? It sure does. But the potential positives are worth it.

    William C. Taylor, author of Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself, was interviewed by Guy Kawasaki recently, and came up with 10 ways to help your company prepare for the future. I think his ideas are worth thinking about, and I ‘d like to share my observations about his list with you:

    Look for opportunities others don’t see
    William notes that forward-thinking companies don’t just out out-compete, they also out think the competition. Working in a creative industry, I can say that his suggestion hits home. My companies have often come up with out-of-the box thinking—which is what helped set us apart from the pack.

    Re-purpose Ideas from other industries
    Yes, I think William has it right. I know that in the advertising industry, we often get creative ideas from many sources. Other industries can often spark one of those light-bulb moments when you least expect it. Seize those moments and run with them.

    Be better than just “good”
    The point here is that it’s not good enough to just be “good” at something anymore. You have to be “great.” Find your niche and be the best at it.

    What is your company’s purpose?
    In other words, would there be an empty space in your industry if your company folded? No? Then find out what would make you distinctive, different or essential and focus on that. William is correct when he says few organizations meet these criteria.  Does yours?

    Rediscover your past
    Basically, William says, understanding where your company came from may help in discovering where it should or could go. Use your company’s history when you craft your future game plan, and you’ll be more successful than starting from scratch.

    Concentrate on your avid “fans”
    Cultivate those customers who depend on your company, says William. These are the people you want to please and they are the ones your company needs most. If you can fill a void and they need your company, you can play on that passion.

    Be more customer-centric
    This is a no-brainer, in my opinion. Just treat your customers better than any of your competitors and you’ll win. Show them you care, with sincerity, and your customers will appreciate it.

    Use hidden brain-power
    You know the saying “two heads are better than one?” William takes it one step further by suggesting you look to your employees, customers and even your competition for great ideas. Think collectively and you will unleash unexpected and amazing ideas you wouldn’t have imagined if you depended on a few key employees.

    Commit to consistency
    I agree with William in that nothing is more frustrating than a company that changes too much. Change and growth are good things, but falling for every industry fad or trend makes your customers wary. Adapt and change when it’s right, not just for the sake of changing.

    Learning is a moving target
    Learning doesn’t stop, as I have certainly seen on a first-hand basis in my businesses. It’s never-ending and constant, so don’t be lulled into thinking that once you’ve adapted and changed you’re done!

    I am excited to put myself to the test and see how well I am doing in these areas. Take a few minutes to think about these 10 suggestions and see how well you and your company are doing. We can all improve a little.

    5 Ways to Reuse Content Wisely for Women Business Leaders

    February 21st, 2011

    As a woman business owner and a woman business leader, I am intimately involved with the creation of website content on many levels; for my own website, my blog, my corporate website and my clients’ websites and blogs. So, how do you find good, relevant content for all of your media outlets? Try re-using your great content for various online channels to save time, money and staff hours.

    I read an article Jay Baer wrote for the Social Media Examiner website that made some great points, and I’d like to share my take on his suggestions:

    Use “taxonomy” wisely

    Jay describes taxonomy as “the words and phrases used to describe products and services.” A poor example of taxonomy is the yellow pages, Jay says. He’s right, you know. Have you ever tried to look for “car parts?” It’s not under “cars,” it’s not under “parts,” it’s somewhere in the “automobiles” section … maybe!

    When you write content for any online media remember to use words wisely.  Think about what terms you would use to search and use those words in your content, both in the headlines and body text.

    Use the most relevant keywords

    A word or phrase that matches your search to the results is known as the keyword. Jay suggests there are three ways to find the best “keywords” or search terms to use in your online content:

    1. Do a keyword search of your website’s top keywords using Google Analytics
    2. See how your website is doing through social mentions
    3. Look at Twitter lists—Jay says that, “How your company or product is referred to in consumer-created Twitter lists can yield important taxonomy insights.”

    Search for inspiration

    Do a Google search of your company name, your Twitter account name and your products from time to time. Try it on other search engines as well.  I do this on occasion and it helps you to see what else is out there, and it may even give you some ideas to get those creative juices going.

    Create a consistent frequency equation

    It sounds complicated, but what Jay means is this—figure out how often you want your content to appear in the different outlets, and then create a formula and monitor how it’s working. Here’s Jay’s example:

    * Twitter (5x/day) * Facebook (2x/day) * Blog (3x/week) * Email (1x/week)

    Track your content

    There are several ways you can do this, but Jay suggests using bit.ly. This is Jay’s plan: create a piece of content and post it on the first part of your equation (Twitter, as shown above) and see how popular it was after posting. This is not a scientific approach as there are many factors that will influence the content’s appeal, but try tracking it at different times of day, different days of the week, and track your results to see what works best.

    Tweak and Re-utilize

    Following the formula Jay suggests, once you find that a piece of content is really popular on the first part (Twitter), you should then take that content and change it up for other media outlets. I do this sometimes myself, and while it may seem that you’re being a little lazy—it’s actually really good business. You know the content is appreciated, and that if you spend the time to “update” it for various other purposes it will most likely be well-received as well!

    The final point here is this: create a good piece of content, and then use it in other formats for maximum effect. It’s actually a really effective use of your or your staff’s time. You don’t need to re-invent the wheel for every social media product. Take advantage of what you already have!