Business Basics: How to Spend Your Marketing Budget

Marketing is something all small business owners need to understand. It is fundamental in letting customers know about your product or service. Many people, particularly sole proprietors starting out, don’t have much of a budget for this purpose and also don’t feel like they have the money to spare specifically for a marketing budget. You may feel as though that is something for bigger companies to worry about and that you can do without it.

However, this is simply not true. The hard fact of the matter is: anyone in business for themselves needs to have a marketing budget, or they won’t remain in business for very long. You need to be in control of your brand and how customers see you and find out about you. While you may not want to spend the money, you need to in order to give your business the best chance of succeeding.

When tackling this question for the first time, you will likely wonder how you can make the most impact with the budget you do have. Your budget does not have to be massive. Maybe even only $100 per month or quarter. But you do need to have it and spend it in the most effective ways. Here are three suggestions I have for those of you getting started:

#1: Social Media

There are some areas where you should really focus, no matter your industry. The first is social media, specifically something like Facebook advertising. Facebook advertising is a great way for people who have never done advertising before to step into it. The big upside is complete control of cost. You determine how much you want to spend on advertising per day and the costs will not exceed that (perfect for a small marketing budget). It’s great for new product launches or for targeting local demographics in the hope they will come to your event.

The other major advantage of Facebook advertising is the ease at which you can select your exact target demographic. Facebook has already collected information on each user’s habits and can leverage that to display your ads to the people most likely to be interested in them. This makes Facebook advertising an ideal way for mompreneurs to learn how to reach their target demographic.

#2: Event Participation

The second area is participating in various promotional opportunities. This can be tricky because many of these events or TV spots that are well-regarded and have massive reach. But they can cost significant amounts of money – $3,500 or more just to participate. Is it worth paying to be a part of something like that, especially if it is a large portion of your marketing budget? The answer is, of course, that it depends. It is not uncommon for new entrepreneurs to be approached with numerous opportunities like this that ask you to spend money.

The real question you must ask yourself is whether you will really get $3,500 worth in advertising from these opportunities. You can evaluate this by looking at the reality versus the potential. Don’t let someone sell you on the potential. Focus on whether or not such opportunities put you directly in the line of sight of your ideal client. If it does not, you must move on.

For example, if you know a TV program that wants to feature you is heavily watched by retired individuals, and retirees are your main demographic, it might be the perfect decision to pursue that opportunity. It’s easy to get starstruck by being on TV, but if your target demographic is young professionals and the TV program is largely watched by retired individuals, it’s not going to help you sell more of your product or service. Don’t waste advertising dollars on the wrong target audience. Instead, only consider opportunities that put you directly in front of the demographic you are ideally targeting with your product.

#3: Printed Promotional Material

A third thing to do is go out into your community and participate in or host events. For example, there might be a 5k or 10k race in town for which you are going to be a sponsor. This can mean you have a booth at the end where you get to hand out a swag bag, coupons, flyers and other things of the sort. Anytime you are out in the community, you need to have some sort of printed promotional material for your business. This should be passed out to anyone.

This material needs to have some sort of offer on it, in order to entice people to give your product a try. Four-by-six inch postcards are a great option for this because you can get so many of them for a very cheap price from sources like Vistaprint, as well as fit a lot of information on them. You can also handwrite a special date or offer on the back of them to customize them for whatever promotion you are doing at the time. Because they are cheap and easy to have on your person to hand out at any time, they are a great way to get your brand out there and keep it on top of mind.

These are just three of the ideas I know work well, and I know how good marketing budget decisions are key to running a successful business, no matter how big or small. I talk a lot about marketing on this blog and on my podcast, so check those resources out too. If you are unsure how best to utilize your budget, or have had limited success, I can help.

Coaching mompreneurs is my passion, so contact me today for your free discovery session if you would like coaching on how to manage a small business advertising budget.

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How To Reach Your Target Market


We’ve talked a lot about figuring out what your target market is, today we’re going to cover reaching that market. I’ve got two ways to help you think about reaching those perfect clients.

The Law Of Attraction Meets Marketing

Learning how to present yourself to the world so that you attract your clients to you can be done in lots of different ways, but it’s really effective in your personal networking. Networking can be as simple as talking with other moms at the park while watching your kids play—managing your answer to “So what do you do?” in such a way that you show up powerfully and make them interested in what you offer.

And don’t count out your “personal” social media accounts. By putting your best face forward when it comes to all of your social media is another opportunity to show that you’re authentic, trustworthy, helpful, and willing to share. Letting your target market know who you are is really attractive to those who need your services.

Take The Low Hanging Fruit

Go where your clients are and be accessible to them in ways that are relevant to them. If they read the newspaper, print advertising may be the way to go. Are they online? Then consider a business website, blog, social media. What kinds of causes matter to your target market? Get involved with a charity event and do a press release. What would they like to hear about? Try hosting a teleseminar, webinar, or podcast that addresses their top concerns or interests.

There are many ways to reach your target market. And a little bit of planning and research will save you countless hours and maybe even dollars in wasted marketing efforts.

Today I’d like to you imagine that you’re meeting someone at a PTA meeting or another soccer parent. They ask “So what do you do?” and you have to answer. This is kind of like your elevator pitch, but tailored for a different audience. Don’t waste an opportunity to tell people what you do, out with it! They aren’t going to think you’re trying to sell them something, they’re the ones who asked.

As always, you can contact me with any questions or ideas. I’d love to hear what your answer is!

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You’re Speaking My Language!

You're Speaking My Language“Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.” ~Stephen Covey


Being understood is a universal need for all of us, isn’t it? If we can speak and articulate our needs, our thoughts, our desires, then we have a chance of getting those needs, thoughts, and desires met. If we don’t communicate effectively, chances are things are probably showing up as a struggle for us in our lives. So if we need to be understood and our clients need to be understood, what are some ways that our communication strategies can boost our marketing effectiveness?


Like, know, and trust.


When we communicate effectively, people begin to like, know, and trust us. We’ve talked about this “like, know, and trust” factor many times before. If we’re going to compete in the business world on more than just a price standpoint, this is where it’s at. When your clients like, know, and trust you, the value of your products and services is going to go up. And following that increase in value is a willingness to open the wallet and spend money with you.


How do we cultivate this “like, know, and trust” factor?


Be yourself. What is your unique voice? Well, when you visit a website, do you prefer a bland earful of product and service offerings, or do you enjoy that feeling of knowing the mind behind the madness before making that purchase? My target market is a market I can relate to because I am one of them! When I create a message, I want my target market to go, “Yep. She must have written that for me.” That feeling of being related to and understood when somebody out there says it exactly the way you were thinking it is priceless.


Market yourself. Website, e-zine, newsletter, blog, social media—all these platforms are vehicles for effective and authentic communication with your target market and can be used to create relationships that give you a leg up on the competition.


Be interesting. Who is your target market? Answer some important questions about their interests and pain points in order to craft your language to speak to those exact things and cause them to feel understood. What are the top challenges of my target market? What are their favorite things to do? What motivates this group? When you can communicate on a level that matches their priorities and concerns, they know that you “get” them and are more likely to buy from you.


Does your target market feel understood?


I hope this has been helpful today. I believe this is one of those topics we need to revisit from time to time in order to check in on our language and focus. Are we communicating the way we want to? Are we communicating in the language that our clients speak? Are we communicating in a way that makes them feel understood?


I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!


Have you struggled with speaking your target market’s language?


Can you think of a time when you, as a customer, had that feeling of not being understood?

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Overcoming The Fear Of Marketing

Overcoming the Fear of MarketingI’d say we generally understand “fear” to be a dirty, little, four-letter word.  As mompreneurs, it tends to present in our businesses looking something like this:  “I am scared I’ll look stupid” or “I don’t know how to do that” or “I’m not good enough at that yet to get paid what I want.”  These are all fears that we have.  They typically show up as a little voice inside our heads that we may not even realize we’re listening to.  It’s really sneaky sometimes.  And even though we probably feel like we’re ignoring them a lot of the time, these fears have a loud way of showing up in our lives because they keep us from doing the things that we really want to do.  Marketing is one of those things that we know we need to do, and we know we want the results, but oftentimes are just too afraid to do it, at least in a powerful way.  If you’re someone who struggles with this, I’m hoping I can give you some tools to help.


Here are three solutions to overcoming the fear of marketing:


1.  Know your target market.  Underneath it all, if you understand your target market—their top priorities, challenges, and what keeps them up at night—then you can become an expert at what your prospective clients need.  If you become an expert on what your prospective clients need, then you’ll gain some confidence in providing solutions that add value to their lives.  When you feel that confidence, it will be so much easier for you to market yourself—to share who you are in this world and what you have to offer.


2.  Create your 10-second elevator pitch.  This unique business statement (around ten seconds, hence the name) tells your niche market who you are, what you do, and why they should care.  You’re going to practice this statement again and again and again so that there is absolutely no doubt, even in your most panicked situations, who your target market is, what value you bring to that market, and how to describe yourself in a way that makes that value evident.  This is a practical tool to help you get out of your own way and overcome some of the fears you may have around marketing yourself.


3.  See yourself as valuable.  Yes, you are a mom, and a good one at that!  And any time we put the word “mom” in front of “entrepreneur,” that says something about our priorities.  But just because your first priority is being an awesome mom does not mean that you can’t contribute to the world in other ways.  You can do it.  You are smart enough.  You deserve it.  Those fears inside us that talk to us about “But what if…?” and “But I’m not…”—they’re just fears!  Fears are not the truth about who we are and what we’re capable of, and if we’re going to be successful and if we want to share the wonderful work that we’re up to in the world, we’re going to have to stop them in their tracks.


I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!


Do you have a 10-second elevator pitch?  Share it with us!


In what ways can you speak truth to yourself instead of fear? 

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What Are You Afraid Of?

What Are You Afraid Of“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  ~Franklin Delano Roosevelt


Cliché?  Maybe.  But I think there is something to be said for fearing the fears that frighten us into self-limiting beliefs, indecision, or inaction.  Today I want to talk to you just a little bit about our fears of marketing ourselves—selling ourselves—especially in casual or social situations.  This is a common fear for mompreneurs and one that can be absolutely paralyzing, so we’ve got to take an honest look at ourselves and head this stuff off at the pass, in order to really overcome these obstacles and do what we want to do.


So let’s take a look at some of the most common issues we, as mompreneurs, face when it comes to the fear of marketing ourselves:


1.  We tend to downplay ourselves and our businesses in casual conversation.  Am I hitting a nerve yet, girls?  It goes like this:  You’re at the park and a fellow mommy asks, “Hi, so nice to meet you.  Oh, me?  I’m just a stay-at-home mom.  What do you do?” and you answer, “Oh, I stay at home too.  That and I have this little business thing I do on the side, but you know…” See how we just downplayed that?  Your little “business thing” doesn’t sound very significant, does it?


2.  We are scared of what people think.  Let’s face it; we all know somebody who is just in nonstop used car sales mode, don’t we?  You know the one.  She is constantly promoting herself and generally annoys everyone around her.  We don’t want to be that person!  And so we are afraid that if we are open and expressive about our passions and what it is we do, we will be perceived as pushy—so instead, we keep our mouths shut.


3.  We are afraid we won’t say the right thing because we don’t have a unique business statement, a.k.a. the “10-second elevator pitch.”  Because we don’t have a clear and concise way to communicate what it is that we do, we are left with the anxiety of not knowing what will come out of our mouths when asked, and the very real possibility of stumbling over our words.


4.  We don’t know what message to deliver if we don’t know for absolute certain who we are delivering it to and what they need.  This is the question of “Why would they care anyway?”  Who are we targeting and what are that niche market’s top pain points.  Once we know that, we can speak confidently about what we do and why it’s important.


5.  We have a mindset of insignificance.  Sometimes we moms just forget that we are very valuable humans in and of ourselves, not just as mothers, and not just compared to what we did before we had children.


Do you recognize yourself in some of these common fears?  Are you letting limits you’ve placed on yourself keep you from pursuing what it is that you really want and have worked so hard for?  It’s critical that we recognize these beliefs in ourselves so we know what it is that we’re overcoming!


I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!


Which of these issues do you identify with most?


What can you start doing today to move away from fear and toward success? 

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Podcasting is H.O.T.

Do you listen to podcasts? Or are you scratching your head and wondering what that word actually means?

podcastPut simply, podcasting is a method of distributing multimedia files (such as audio programs or music videos) over the Internet. With the rise of DVRs, Netflix, Apple TV and such, we have the power to choose which TV shows we want to watch and when we want to watch them. (Been on a MadMen or Breaking Bad binge lately? Who can stop after watching just one episode when all of them are right there???) Podcasting works the same way, but doesn’t need you to be sitting in front of a TV. In fact, one of the reasons I love podcasts so much is that I can watch or listen to them whenever I want and wherever I happen to be: walking around the neighborhood, running on the treadmill, listening while I drive that long road trip home to Georgia, etc.)

I’ve been hosting The Mom Biz Solutions Show for over five years. Five years! Holy cow, that makes me a grandma in podcasting years! While podcasting has been around for about 10 years, it has only recently started to get a lot of attention. If you browse the iTunes store, you’ll find hundreds of podcasts on any topic you can name. A subscription to a podcast in iTunes is usually free and allows you to have new episodes of podcasts you love ready on demand in your smartphone whenever you feel like listening. (Subscribe to my show here.)

I recently listened to a webinar by John Lee Dumas of EntrepreneurOnFire (another great podcaster), and he shared some interesting stats.

  • There are 575 Million active iTunes subscribers
  • There are 315 Million mobile device users listening to podcasts
  • But only 4 out of 10 people know what a podcast is in the United States
  • Podcasting is the #1 lead generator in iTunes

While I absolutely suggest you consider subscribing to some great podcasts as a way to continue your learning as a mom entrepreneur (or to take a self-care break and listen to a podcast that entertains you when you need a lift), I also encourage you to consider starting your own podcast. After all, about 90 % of my private coaching clients first find and connect with me through my podcast. And after they’ve had my voice inside their head for a while, they call me when they’re ready to hire a business coach and get the success they want.

This inquiry came from the Contact Us form on my website today:

Hi Lara,
I discovered you through B-School a while back and have started listening to your podcasts.
You had one encouraging us to do podcasting.
It’s something I’d like to do but just reading all the details about how is overwhelming.
Do you have any experience walking someone through the process to make it easy and idiot proof?
Looking forward to hearing from you, C.

And here’s my response:

Great to meet another B-Schooler! And even better, it’s always so fun to meet one of my listeners. I’m glad you’re getting inspired to do some podcasting of your own. I have been podcasting for over five years, and I’ve coached many women to start their own shows. It can be an overwhelming process to just get started, but once you get past the setup hurdles, it’s really a breeze. I also provide coaching and support on:
– Developing and leveraging your platform as an expert (your content/what to talk about)
– How often you should podcast
– How to integrate your podcast into everything else you do and market across multiple channels
– How to find guests for your show (if desired)
– How to monetize your podcast
Want to hop on the phone and discuss how I could help you get up and running?
See that, Friends? That’s an example of how my podcast is doing a great job of attracting warm leads to me. By putting out some great content that is full of my key messages about the Mindset, Management and Marketing savvy all mompreneurs need, I attract listeners who eventually want my support as a coach.
So, what do you think? Is it time for you to start your own podcast? Ready to establish and leverage a new marketing channel for your business? I’d love to help you. Or if you are already a podcaster, can you share in the comments below how you use your podcast in your business? And of course, leave a link to your show!
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Get People To Listen To You

get people to listen to youIf you’ve been around the MomBiz community at all, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of building relationships that in turn build your business.  Now a fundamental piece of relationship building is communication, which involves both clearly articulating your thoughts and the art of listening.  Being skilled in one doesn’t necessarily insure strength in the other, and of course there is always room for improvement in both.  So today I’m going to share with you five tips to becoming a better communicator and therefore, empower you to bring about the results you want.


1.  LISTEN.  You may have noticed that we have one mouth and two ears.  It stands to reason that ideally, we should spend twice the amount of time listening to others as we spend talking to them.  So instead of succumbing to human nature and while you’re waiting for your turn to talk, formulating your answer, rebuttal or witty comeback, try to practice active listening.  Active listening, simply put, is listening carefully enough that you can repeat back or paraphrase some of the things that the speaker says to you.  There is a psychological agreement that takes place when we listen in this way—“You’re listening to me; therefore, I will listen to you,” which is, after all, what we were hoping for in the first place.


2.  CALL THEM NAMES.  No, I’m joking.  But using a person’s name in the course of conversation is a useful tool for holding their attention.  This is also a great little trick for remembering names if that’s something you have trouble with.


3.  GIVE THEM PROPS.  We all need a little acknowledgment.  In today’s world of social media, “virtually” patting someone on the back or expressing thanks is as easy as retweeting something someone says that we see as valuable, “liking” an inspiring post on Facebook, sharing a status.  Expand this idea to real life.  If you want people to listen to you and help you get what you want, look for opportunities to honor them.  It’s good karma and it’s good business.


4.  ASK QUESTIONS.  Now we’re not talking interrogation here, but more of a genuine curiosity about what the other person has to offer.  By asking relevant questions and thereby proving that you care, you actually gain greater control over the direction of the conversation and earn the right to be heard in the process.


5.  TAKE A BREATH.  Let’s face it.  In all reality, the person you’re talking with is probably only half listening.  So when you’re at that critical place in the conversation where you really need to drive that point home, it’s time for a change of pace.  Slowing down and building in pauses causes the other person to take notice, and also gives them time to really digest the important things you have to say.


These are some really simple but effective tools that you can apply to make yourself a better communicator, whether it’s with your kids, with your spouse, or with your clients and your team.  In business or in life, communication is the key to being heard and ultimately, getting the results you want.


I love to hear from you, so send me a comment!


Are you a better speaker than you are a listener? 


Which of these strategies do you plan to implement to become a more effective communicator? 

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5 Strategies For A Successful Small Business

5 Strategies For a Successful Small BusinessToday we are going to jump right into five of what I think are the most important strategies for a successful small business.  More than just five steps, these strategies will help shape your mindset with a philosophy geared toward helping mompreneurs like you really grab onto and focus on a foundation for success.


So here we go.


1.  Choose a narrow target audience.  And I know, I know—I know the resistance.  You’ve heard me talk about this before.  So here’s what I’m saying.  Again, if you are a big national brand, that’s fine.  You can work on appealing to everybody.  Go for it.  But if you’re a small business owner, one of the best ways for you to make a splash is by being a big fish in a little pond.  What I mean by that is if you really want to start out with some traction, choose a small group to begin with.  Once you dominate that market, then you can start expanding.  So you don’t have to stay small.  We’re just going to start small.


2.  Engage with your target audience.  You guys know I am all about engagement marketing.  Engagement marketing is really building relationships that are completely authentic—getting to know people, building that connection and that relationship with them as a person—and then the business follows after that.  It’s all about being where your customers are.  This can mean posting to the blogs they read, being an active participant in forums that interest them, tweeting about topics relevant to them.  Over time your participation will increase that “like, know and trust” factor that is so key to establishing the credibility you’re striving for.


3.  Create things people need.  Now I’ve talked about this before.  We’re talking about making offerings to your audience that are painkillers—not vitamins.  Create a solution for one small problem that your target audience has, and I promise you they will be grateful and buy it.  So pay attention to what their top challenges, biggest struggles, ongoing issues—their pain points—are.  This is how you will learn to create your products and services as solutions to those pains.


4.  Distinguish yourself from your competition.  When faced with fierce competition, the advantage is found not in discounting your prices—which can actually have the psychological effect of decreasing your value—but in providing more value to your clients than your competitors do.  The key here is to find ways to make whatever you’re offering even more valuable to your clients in a way that serves you both.  What valuable yet cost-effective thing can you add to what you are already offering?  This is a great way to stand out from the crowd and develop customer loyalty in the process.


5.  Be an expert.  The key is focus.  So many business owners try to be everything to everybody and we wind up piecing together a business that’s really just a hodgepodge of things we know how to do to make money.  Being a business owner requires vision, strategy, and planning.  Be the best one in your industry at solving a specific problem that your specific audience has. Build a platform that gives you that expertise.


I love connecting with small business owners like you, so share your experiences!

Which of these tips hangs you up most often? 

Which are you succeeding at?    

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Pick A New Marketing Path

If-youre-going-to-spendMarketing.  It’s a critical piece of what we do as mompreneurs.  But marketing is one of those things that we can have a tendency to get stuck in—that we check off our ever-increasing list of to-dos and just move on to bigger and better things once we find something that works—like, “Oh, marketing?  Yes, I’ve done that.  Check!”  I hate to be the one to tell you, guys, but if you’re doing that, you’re really, really missing out on a lot of opportunities to get yourself out there, even to the point of being serendipitous.


So let’s get out of that slump.  Let’s get out of autopilot.  Let’s change things up a bit.  There are lots of different ways to market yourselves and your businesses, so let’s look at some of my favorites today.


1.  Asking for referrals.  I don’t care what business you’re in, but if you sell something to someone and they’re pleased with it, are you asking them to share that great news with somebody else?  Sometimes we just forget to ask.  Make sure that you’re asking your satisfied customers for referrals.  If they’re truly happy with what you’ve done for them, they will be glad to bring more business your way.


2.  Writing articles.  Have you submitted any articles lately?  A lot of us got a start in submitting content writing to sites like EzineArticles and other online article directories, but don’t discount local publications.  There are so many local publications specifically for moms and families out there.  Contact them and ask if you can write an article.  Putting your name and byline and demonstrating your expertise in another format that is not run by you—not just your newsletter—helps get the word out and you get to ride on the visibility and coattails of credibility for the organization that publishes you.  Fantastic marketing.


3.  How about press releases?  Now this is something that a lot of people have hang-ups about because they think that there must be some fancy, special process, including hiring a PR person, etc.  You know what guys?  If you are launching a new program, creating a new workshop, offering a special sale, doing some sort of charitable partnership, participating in anything that is possibly newsworthy—why not send out a press release?  People in the news world are looking for bites and nibbles and hooks of things to report on.  And who knows?  Maybe it will land you a fantastic interview in the Wall Street Journal or Forbes or Working Mother.  People want to hear from you.  This is a fantastic opportunity that could lead to so many more opportunities.


4.  Self-publishing.  Self-publishing is the way to go these days.  With a little research, you can publish straight to Amazon Kindle. The publishers out there are working with self-publishing arms like Amazon because they know that people are producing amazing content. If you are blogging on a regular basis, you can take some of those blog posts, organize them by theme and category, create some chapters, re-swizzle the content and then pull it all together in a book.  Why not?  And having a book—self-published or traditionally published—helps open the door to lots of other opportunities for you.  Great marketing tool.


5.  A fresh take on networking.  Here is the key to making networking work for you as a marketing tool: Make sure that when you choose a networking event, you’re going not just to hang out with your colleagues, with your peers, with other people just like you… because they’re not going to buy your stuff, okay? If you’re going to spend your time networking, make the effort to get in front of your target audience.  Go to events where your target audience is and where they might be looking for you.  It will make all the difference.


I hope I’ve sparked your interest and given you reason to take a look at how you can snazz-up what you’re already doing in the marketing arena or even cause to try a new thing or two.  Changes can be scary, but they can also be key in keeping your business top-of-mind, which is really what we all want, right?


Hey, I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment!

What “new thing” are you planning on implementing to keep your marketing fresh?

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How to get a blogger’s undivided attention

I just returned from New York City and the mega-conference that is BlogHer. Holy Mama! So many bloggers, so many brands, so many sessions, so many friends…

Introducing Qwiki and The Dry Bar

It can be very hard to focus on ANYTHING when you’re in the midst of 4,500 women and nearly as many brands vying for their attention.
In the one-minute video below, I share how one brand did it right.

Play the Qwiki: How to get undivided attention at BlogHer

 Did a brand reach out to you at the conference? Did you like the way they pitched you, or would you like to give them a few tips about how to get your attention next time? Share your comments below.

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