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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5 MORE Ways Twitter Changed My Business

5 More Ways Twitter Changed My BusinessTwo posts in a row on the wonders of Twitter! That tells you how highly I think of it. Last time I shared with you “5 Ways Twitter Changed My Business” and today I’m going to follow that up by letting you in on five more things I just love about it—things I hope may push you over the edge toward giving it a try. I bet you’ll never go back! I know I won’t. So let’s dive right in!

1. It’s targeted! If you’ve been around the MomBiz community for any time at all, you’ve probably noticed we talk a lot about your “target market” and whether or not you’ve been asking them what they want. Well, pre-Twitter, I didn’t do that at all. I just came up with an idea that I thought was good and I tried to sell it to people I thought needed it. Now sometimes that worked, but many times it didn’t, and it led to a lot of wasted time and energy. Twitter surrounds me with opportunities to interact with my target market. A quick keyword search gives me untold insight into the pain points I want to create solutions for. When I have an idea, I can float it out to my “tweople” and either regroup and try again, or march confidently forward with what I know they need.

2. It’s easy! As a mompreneur and Chief Everything Officer of your business, you wear a lot of hats. Opportunities to speak or collaborate or teach or write or coach are worthwhile endeavors… but who has time to search for them? Twitter and the marketing strategy I’ve built around it have made me no longer a hunter, but a receiver of such opportunities, creating a richness and diversity to my offerings that I wouldn’t accomplish otherwise.

3. It’s visible! Twitter is the most powerful tool I know of to create visibility for my brand. It’s my virtual “business card.” Enough said. Well… almost. Let’s say you have 2,000 followers on Twitter. Well, that means that not only do those 2,000 people see your tweets, but THEIR followers do too. You can go to a networking event and hand out 20 or 30 or 50 business cards, or you can use Twitter, and every time you tap out 140 characters, you’re sending it to 2,000+. You do the math.

4. It’s central! Twitter has become a single platform in which I can leverage everything else I do in my business. It is the central processing area. I can tweet about my blog posts, my videos, my articles, my products, my radio show… with just a few clicks of the mouse. Twitter is the center of my online presence, offering easy access to all I do.

5. It’s friendly! Running a home-based small business can be lonely. When I’m excited about something and just dying to share it with others, I send it out on Twitter and I get dozens of congratulatory tweets back from my followers. In the same way, when the fighting kids and challenges of motherhood have stressed me to the hilt, some encouraging or hysterical tweets make it all better. This is the stuff that keeps me going.

So there’s my Twitter campaign. They really should send me money for doing such persuasive advertising for them! But when one simple, free tool can make such a positive difference, how can I keep from spreading the word?

I love to hear from you, so let me know what you think!
What is YOUR favorite thing about Twitter?
Has anything I’ve blogged about convinced you to give Twitter a try?

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5 Ways Twitter Changed My Business

twitter businessLittle did I know, back in October of 2008, my first 140-character tweet would be the catalyst that would one day transform Twitter into my “office” and eventually generate 95% of my qualified leads. As passionate, spirited, proactive entrepreneurs, perhaps you’re like me and will give anything a try once. And with Twitter’s low barrier to entry, once you hear how it’s changed my business, if you haven’t taken the plunge, maybe you’ll do just that.

1. It’s fast! Twitter has given me immediate access to people and information unlike anything else. It used to be I would go directly to Google with my problems and questions. Now I just pop on Twitter and tweet about it and within moments I get really personalized responses with exactly what I was looking for.

2. It’s convenient! I really have neither the desire, much less the time to arrange for childcare, get all gussied up, and then commute to a networking event that really doesn’t fit my schedule. With Twitter, I am marketing myself ALL THE TIME. Thanks to automation, I’m live, even when I’m busy with the kids and away from my computer.

3. It’s relational! Twitter has facilitated relationships that have really helped build my business. Mentors, colleagues, friends, teachers, joint venture partners, not to mention clients—all on Twitter!

4. It’s comfortable! One of my favorite things about Twitter is that it provides a really comfortable, low-pressure environment for my future clients and me to get to know each other. We can chat back and forth for days or weeks or months without feeling pressed to push a sale, which is not my bag of tricks anyway. In this way, they begin to trust me and I get a lot more insight into what they’re up to before we ever get down to business.

5. It’s efficient! When I think back on my pre-Twitter days, I am truly amazed that I ever completed a sales cycle. The effort and time it took to establish the seven to ten touches or points of contact recommended by the marketing gurus before the average person is ready to buy was insurmountable. With Twitter, I can accomplish those touches in an hour if I want to and more often than not, prospective clients come to me.

So you wondered why I’m such a Twitter evangelist? There you have it! And these are only five of the ways I love Twitter. Stay tuned for a future post on “5 MORE Ways Twitter Changed My Business.”

Until next time, you know I love to hear from you, so shoot me a line!

How has Twitter changed YOUR business?
If you’re NOT yet sold on the wonders of Twitter, what’s holding you back?

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It’s hard to stay focused when you’re excited

It’s hard, really hard, to stay focused when I’m excited about something.

But I’m gonna do it.

Those of you following this blog or who follow me on twitter (@mombizcoach) know that I’m going to my first live event in a couple of weeks. I’ll be speaking on the Small Business Success Panel at EVO ’10: The Evolution of Women in Social Media Conference in Park City, Utah June 24-26. I have had a strict “no-travel-for-business” policy since I started my company due to the fact that we have three small children and no family nearby (nor even in the same country) to care for them if I’m gone for a few days. But the time has finally come that I can get out of town to go speak without causing too much hardship on my family! Yippeeee!

This conference represents many good things for me:

  • The chance to get out of the house and go on vacation in the mountains!
  • Time to meet and mingle with my kinda people, people I truly “get” and who “get” me
  • Lots of opportunities to talk about and learn about small business topics that are important to me
  • I get to speak in person (not just over the phone, via a webinar, or on my radio show–wowwee!)
  • I’ll be part of a five-person panel, with some amazing cool chicks I am simply honored to share the room with (Stay tuned for a list of all the cool panelists I get to rub elbows with coming in a future post… See me making sure I keep up with this whole blogging commitment?).
  • I get to dress up and wear pretty clothes around other women who will be so kind as to tell me I look cute (don’t you just love dressing up and going out with your girlfriends?).
  • The chance to belt out some serious tunes on karaoke with a bunch of the other speakers and participants during the evening activities
  • An opportunity to meet people I likely wouldn’t meet otherwise
  • The chance to show up and present myself and my brand the way I really want to be seen and heard
  • Countless collaboration opportunities
  • Hopefully find a few cool mompreneurs who are looking for a mentor or a business coach to help them create the businesses they really want

I’m sure you can tell that all this possibility has me bouncing off the walls these days. So the thing for me to do to manage all that energy is to find a way to harness it and focus it so I can be sure to get the results I want. After all, I’d hate to let the emotions cause me to miss out on any one of the opportunities I listed above.

Check back in a couple of days when I post about what I’ll be doing to create some good intentions for my first live conference. I’ve been reading lots of great blogs and tweeters (especially Market Like a Chick, @shawnmdriscoll and @ShellyKramer) to get some ideas about how to organize myself for the conference. There’s a lot more to it than prepping my talk and packing my new clothes. I’m happy to share what I’m learning with you.

Got a live event coming up that you want to be sure you maximize? Tell me about it in the comments below. I’d love to hear what sort of intentions you have for it.

Better yet, wanna join me at EVO ’10? There’s still time. Click the button at the top to get discounted registration and leave a comment below to let me know you’re coming!

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5 Ways to Improve Your Business on a Micro-budget

Guest post by Mike McClure, Partner, Executive Creative Director & Social Media Director for The Yaffe Group

LinkedIn photoIf you’re an entrepreneur or smaller business looking to get more business on a small to miniscule budget, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that with all the free and low cost tools available in the digital and social media world, you can be quite effective without spending a lot of money. The bad news? To make it work, you do need to invest a lot of time sprinkled with inspiration and innovation. Having a personality helps, too.

More good news: many individuals and companies are finding a lot of productive leads and connections through these channels. More bad news: it’s not a quick fix. It’s something you need to commit to and keep at. That doesn’t mean it will take you a year or two to see any results. But, it does mean you can’t just post a brilliant blog or open a Twitter account and expect the new business to start flooding through your doors.

Here’s 5 ways you can start improving your business without seriously hurting your bottom line:

1. Connect, connect, connect.

Use all the social networking tools available to you. Social networking is a great way to connect with people who may need your product or services. Just make sure you don’t start by broadcasting how great you are or trying to sell something. It’s like a cocktail party. Start with small talk; find out where you have common interests and where you can help them with their needs. It’s a good way to get to know someone you’ve never met before. Once they like and know you, they’ll be much more likely to want to do business with you.

I would suggest starting with LinkedIn if you haven’t gotten into any network. It’s the most business oriented site. Here’s a good post on how one business owner used LinkedIn to get a board of directors seat (http://bit.ly/21gfNB). From there, it’s a matter of preference and what type of business you’re in. You may want to start a Facebook fan page or personal page next. Or you may find the immediacy of Twitter is more to your liking. Here’s a good post by Lara Galloway on how she uses Twitter as one of her main new business tools (http://bit.ly/1wTAFo).

2. Answer Questions on LinkedIn

One the best features on LinkedIn is the Q&A section. Why? It gives you a chance to meet people out of your network, help them with a problem they have and display your expertise. Just go to the sections where questions are being asked on subjects that fit your business offerings and your area of expertise.

Here’s just one example of how that’s worked for me. I saw a question from a guy writing a book on social media. He was looking for examples of social media success stories. I told him about a campaign we’d done for one of our clients that had worked well. He liked it, we linked together and over the next 6 months had several conversations through LinkedIn messaging. This fall he was looking for judges for a big Blog Off competition his company was having. I volunteered and became part of an international “Dream Team” panel (http://bit.ly/6xs3XH) Besides the publicity of the contest itself, I will be listed in an upcoming book as one of the world’s top social media people, will be talked about on a Blog Talk Radio show that reaches millions and in video shows by one of Europe’s top providers of online content.  Not bad for a small business owner in Detroit.

3. Use Blog Talk Radio

This is a free, easy way to create podcasts for your own enterprise. There are two ways you can use Blog Talk Radio to help your business. One is to sign up at blogtalkradio.com and host your own show. This way you can have your own radio talk show.  You can invite guests who will speak on subject matters relevant to your audience or you can invite guests who represent companies you want to do business with. Or you can sometimes just speak on subjects you’re knowledgeable about and make those podcasts available to your potential clients. For an example of doing your own show, you can look at the Mom Biz Coach show. (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/mombizcoach)

The second, and easier, way to use Blog Talk Radio is to volunteer your expertise to someone who has a show. Our head of Yaffe Direct, Michael Morin, went on the Chuck Talks Business show and had an hour long interview. It went well and, with Chuck’s permission, we downloaded the podcast and posted it on our Yaffe Tidbits site (http://www.yaffetidbits.com/podcasts/radio/morin_marketing.html). We then edited a 2-minute teaser of some of the best parts of the interview. We emailed the two minute version to a list of prospects along with a link to the full podcast. Within a few weeks we got several inquiries from potential clients who we never would have gotten to talk to otherwise.

4. Buy a Flip Camcorder

You can get a really nice Flip Camcorder for around $125; I’d also pop for the small tripod that’s about $20-25. The Flip is an extremely easy way to shoot, edit and post videos to your site, blog, Facebook fan page, YouTube channel or wherever you can add video to your online presence. Video is a way to really put a face on your business. You can simply set it up on the tripod, point it at yourself and record a video blog. You can also record and post client testimonials. (http://bit.ly/8UXVZ8)  It’s also small and portable that you can carry it with you when you go to a conference, meeting, seminar, tweetup or wherever. At these events you can ask people’s opinions on whatever issues you’d like to cover for your clients/potential clients. It takes nothing to plug the Flip into your computer and use the included edit system to string together the comments you like and post that video to one of your sites. All this adds to both your content and your credibility.

5. Blog about potential clients

If you have a blog for your business (if you don’t, start one now), you can meet potential clients simply by asking them if you can interview them for an upcoming blog post. It’s a great way to meet and get to know someone in a non-sales environment (important note: don’t try and sell yourself or company during the interview). Who doesn’t like the idea of someone wanting to interview them for their expert opinion? More often than not, you’ll be able to find someone willing to talk about their business for the free publicity for both their company and themselves.

Even if you don’t get an interview, do research on the company and write a blog post about what they’re doing right as a company. Here’s an example of a post I wrote about Biggby Coffee. (http://bit.ly/6Hferc) After creating it, send the post to them. Even if it doesn’t peak their interest in you, they may link the post to their own site or blog. We still get traffic to our blog from companies that have linked to a post about them from many months ago.

There you have it. Five ideas that should get your business some attention without spending an arm and a leg. I’d say good luck, but it really is just a matter of good hard work.

To learn more about Mike McClure, The Yaffe Group and the great marketing work he does for his clients, visit his site and be sure to follow him on Twitter!

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My favorite marketing tools for mompreneurs

In one of my mom entrepreneur coaching groups, I was recently asked the following question:

Of the various marketing tools and methods you use, which has yielded the best financial return?

Can you guess my answer? I bet you can.

My favorite marketing tool is TWITTER. I get several leads a day directly from twitter. That’s why I’m so passionate about it. Let me expand a little on that, though. Twitter_Button_8

I just hosted a teleseminar yesterday with my coach, Rhonda Hess, about automating your sales process to attract thousands of ideal clients. (You can click here if you’d like to listen to the podcast on-demand.)

In that teleseminar, Rhonda explained how we should all focus on a BLOG as our centerpiece. Write in your authentic voice, share your thoughts, wisdom, opinions, photographs of your work or products, lessons learned from a situation or experience that is relevant to your target market, etc. and you’ll start attracting readers who want to spend more time with you and ultimately purchase what you sell. Then everytime you post to your blog, you share it on twitter (and facebook and LinkedIn, etc.) with a link back to your blog. By doing this, along with asking for and responding to comments to your blogposts, you are building relationships and increasing the “stickiness” of your blog. Internet marketers use the term “stickiness” to refer to how compelling your website or blog is and how long your prospects “stick around” to read more on it. I use twitter as a vehicle to connect with people, to build relationships, and to deliver prospects back to my website and blog so they can learn more about what I do. Upon checking my blog statistics, the top referrer to my blog and website is almost always twitter.

Twitter is, of course, a free tool, but it does cost me my time. As a mompreneur, time happens to be my most expensive and valuable asset.  That said, I spend very little time on twitter most days. I usually pop on and off for 1-5 minutes at a time several times a day. There are days I never logon to twitter, and then there are times when the kids are in bed that I’ll spend two hours on twitter chatting with friends and potential clients. I also use several twitter integration tools so that lots of what I tweet can occur automatically, saving me a lot of time.

As a return on my investment, I am currently getting a couple of warm leads each day from twitter. Given my very limited work schedule of only 10 hours a week (client-facing time), this is more than enough to fill my pipeline.

My second favorite marketing tool is my BlogTalkRadio Show. I’m finding that people all over the world are hearing me on the internet and already feel related to me because of this. As a result, my prospects are ready to hire me before we ever speak in person.

People like to consume their information in different formats, so if you’re not currently using audio or video as part of your marketing strategy, it would be worthwhile to consider adding these options. If you have no clue how you could integrate audio and video into an effective marketing strategy for your business, let’s set up a free 20-minute brainstorming session and get you started.

So what are your favorite marketing tools? Do you enjoy marketing or prefer to delegate it to someone else? Do you spend most of your marketing budget on traditional (print, radio, tv) methods or on Social Media Marketing?  Please join the discussion and leave a comment below.

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Umm…225 views to my blog yesterday???

Holy smokes! I’m humbled! The most visitors I’ve had in a day before yesterday was 61. What happened?

Well, I checked out my stats, thinking something must be wrong or broken with WordPress. And then I saw that the referrer for most of those posts was StumbledUpon. I got Stumbled!

Aha!

Social Media and Viral Marketing strike again!

Now I’m writing a blog post talking about StumbledUpon. The blog post will automatically show up in several places, like my LinkedIn Profile, on my twitter updates, on my personal Facebook profile as well as on my Facebook for Business Page. And I’ll include tags for StumbledUpon and eventually install a widget here on the blog so that others can Stumble this post (although I’m having a technical difficulty with that widget right now…).

And I think that the source for all this Stumbling must have had something to do with my participation in an online twitter event last night. http://mommygossip-gno.blogspot.com/ hosted a “Girls’ Night Out” (or GNO) last night, where zillions of twitterers logged on at the same time and chatted about holiday shopping (among other things) while entering contests to win lots of free stuff made by some of the other mom entrepreneurs participating in the GNO. The activity was frenetic. I stepped away from the computer once for about five minutes and there were 96 new tweets to read. Geesh!

Within the space of an hour, I had a great time chatting with an online community about Christmas toys, chocolate, kids and their bedtime routines, how to stay fit, what to do if you’re laid off during the holidays, and ways to be grateful. I also found about 30 new twitterers I was interested in and decided to follow. And my total number of followers went from something like 350 at 8pm to 423 this morning! Whoa! I even connected with about five of these new followers and am excited about the possibilities of developing a better releationship with them over time.

I’m not a huge “numbers” person. Instead, I prefer building relationships with people. But Social Media and its viral marketing capabilities increase the total number of people I’m possibly interested in developing a relationship with. If ever there were a good excuse to believe in abundance, it’s when I think about all the possibilities that are out there for connecting with other mompreneurs and how we can all support each other!

Have you experienced a crazy jump in your online presence? If so, what happened? Was it intentional? What was the most significant value you realized from having your message/biz/profile reach more people? And how do you manage this increase in traffic?

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WSJ article: How twitter is used for business

Continuing my theme on Social Media and why mom entrepreneurs should take advantage of its offerings, I just read a great article in the Wall Street Journal about twitter. Here’s the link:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122461906719455335.html.

Are you using twitter? If so, how do you use it? How much time do you spend daily using twitter or your other favorite social networking platforms? What are the pros and cons of using such a service for promoting your business?

And of course, please feel free to follow me. I’m @mombizcoach or www.twitter.com/mombizcoach.

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Why Social Marketing is Critical for Mom Entrepreneur Businesses–Part 1

Those of you who have spent any time around me, or on the phone with me, or reading my blog have heard me get a little preachy when it comes to Social Media and its marketing capabilities. Especially now, when the economy is giving us “the gift” of more time to plan, organize and market our businesses, I’d like to help you get some great exposure for the hard work that you do. For FREE!

Lately, I’ve been busy. Yahoo! In the last week, I’ve been invited to give a workshop to a parenting group in Ontario, I’ve been interviewed for a mini-documentary about my Mom Biz Coach business for a London, ON radio station, and I’ve been asked to contribute an article I’ve written and to consider collaborating with a phenomenal group of women coaches. In fact, I’m thrilled to have just received another invitation to be interviewed by a talk show hostess this morning.

How did all this happen?

I didn’t cold call anyone. I didn’t take out a large print ad in the local magazines and newspapers. I didn’t pay for specialized SEO for my websites. I didn’t pay for a booth at a networking event. I didn’t send out a press release to anyone. In fact, I didn’t pay for anything and I was probably wearing my pajamas in the comfort of my own home when my marketing was working for me. And rather than “pushing” my marketing message out to the world, I’m “attracting” an audience who is interested in what I do.

So what is Social Media? The easiest way for me to think about it is to compare it to a Chamber of Commerce or a small business networking group (like BNI). All of us entrepreneurs know that marketing is important, but we seldom choose to allocate large portions of our budget to it. Instead, we often choose the “free” marketing route of appearing at various business networking events, introducing ourselves to other small business owners, exchanging business cards, and giving and asking for referrals.

I did this for the first two or three years of my business. But then, when I moved across the border to Windsor, and had no babysitters for these morning Chamber/BNI meetings, I started seeing just how much these “free marketing” opportunities were costing me in time and headaches. As a mom of three kids aged six and under, attending a weekly 7am coffee at the local chapter of BNI simply doesn’t work. So how can we mom business owners effectively network, give and get referrals, and in general get the world “buzzing” about our businesses?

Enter Social Media! You may also have heard some other terms associated with it, like Social Networking, Social Marketing, Viral Marketing, etc.

Here’s the skinny:

Social Media is a fast, professional, easy and effective way to market your business. And in my own humble opinion, it beats using the traditional methods (print ads, radio ads, tv ads, booths at tradeshows, etc.) since it is 1) free and 2) working for you when you’re not even awake!

Some examples of Social Media I’m using are LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter and my wordpress.com blog. There are countless others out there, but I’m going to focus on the ones I use. Each of these sites allows me to set up an account for free. I create a profile of my business (including my bio/resume sometimes, or my background and interests, or my expertise on a certain topic), upload a professional photo of myself, and include links to all my other sites (websites, blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter accounts).

All of these media allow me to build my online network by making connections (LinkedIn), inviting more friends (Facebook), increasing my followers and the people I follow (twitter), and offering an RSS/subscription service (blogs). Just as you would build your professional network via business card exchanges, referrals, attending networking events, etc., you build your community of people you are interested in and who are interested in you. Unlike traditional networking and marketing, you don’t have to hire a babysitter, dry clean your suit, and spend time commuting to and from your home or office. In fact, I do most of my social networking just two or three minutes at a time with at least one child on my lap.

As a coach, I’m in the services business. I don’t have a product (other than myself) to sell (yet!). My intention when I market my business is to get people to know, like and trust me. People like to buy from people they know, like and trust. Of course, you can use Social Media platforms to socialize with friends and family, but the reason I use it for business is because I find the online business community to be extremely approachable. I am able to introduce myself and be introduced to others by typing a quick message like, “Hi! I love your work. Look forward to learning from you!”

In very little time, I usually get a message back. There: a virtual handshake that’s informal, yet powerful. And if this new contact is interested in learning more about me, s/he can do so via my profile, which in turn links them to my websites, blogs and other Social Media platforms. After reading about me in these platforms, a potential client is pre-qualified to do business with me since I explain how I work, what I offer and what I charge on my website. So you see, I can end up with a pre-qualified sales lead as a result of typing 11 words and hitting send. How easy is that?

And it can be even easier. Since most Social Networking platforms (like LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter) allow all of my friends/connections to see who I’m connected to and to read my posts, I often get messages from people who are “friends of my friends” who I never contacted directly. This passing of information continues to spread, like a virus (hence the term “viral marketing”) to all of my friends, then to their friends, and so on. And it travels fast!

So this is where I’ll end my first installation about Social Media and why you should be using it to promote your business. I hope you’ll take a peak at some of the options out there. I’ll go into greater depth about how it works (including some examples) and offer some resources for more information in the next two issues of my ezine. If you have questions, please ask. I’m excited to help you grow your business!

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