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If you like food journals, you’ll love…

Food Journal - Marketing Journal

I just wrote down the ingredients of my egg sandwich in my food journal (sprouted grain English muffin, duck egg, avocado, sweet potato, greens, red onion, sour cream), and had this stroke of insight: before you can improve, you need to know where you are. Yep, not incredibly original, but powerful. There is a reason this food journal thing is so popular among nutritionists – it is simple enough, and it just works. It reveals information and patterns you maybe knew at some level, but didn’t see clearly (or maybe pushed into the blind spot). How about we take that same tool for marketing, too?

Day 1-4: Journaling. Day 5: Insights.

Here are your instructions: For the next four or more days, keep a piece of paper (or something classier or more techy) near your work space. Every night, note what you did to market your practice, how much time you spent on it, and how you felt when you were done. Energized? Excited? Overwhelmed? Frustrated?

On day 5, look at what you’ve got. What marketing activities seem to go well with your personality and style? Which ones do you need help with? And which ones are just a pain in the butt and maybe not even not worth doing?

Also, look at the amount of time and energy you invested. Are you happy with it? Do you have an inkling that you’d feel better if it was less?

Marketing Journal Confidential: Email me!

If you’re not sure what to make of your patterns, I’d love to help out. Send me your journal and I’ll do my very best to uncover the hidden gems of insight!

Vice versa, if you have any suggestions on how to make my egg sandwich any more awesome, please spill them!

p.s. That photo shows my typical breakfast during my stay Iceland (delicious coffee not pictured) – not quite the shape of an egg sandwich, but comparably awesome.

 

Is this a good idea?

Marketing Experiments

You’ll know whether your marketing idea is a good one when you see the results. Before then, you can make an educated guess, based on expert advice, or your friends’ experiences, but you don’t really know.

What works for your friend or another professional in the field may not be a good choice for your business. Your people may have different needs and preferences. You may not have the same skills, or the same resources. Your business model and the ecosystem it is part of may be different. Or maybe things have simply changed.

I really like that thought. It’s empowering. It means that you don’t have to figure this out in your head. Instead, you get to experiment! You don’t need an MBA, or get someone’s permission, or take much of a risk. You just need to be curious, ready to let go of assumptions, and take action.

Here is a road map for a simple, small-scale marketing experiment:

1. Pick one idea you want to test.
For example, let’s say you want to know if it’s a good idea to write guest posts for a well known blog in your field.

2. Decide how much time – and, if required, money or other resources – you want to dedicate to the experiment.
Go with an amount that feels comfortable to you. In our example case, you might say you’ll take an hour and a half to write an awesome post, another hour to communicate and coordinate, and then another one to track and evaluate the results.

3. Take action!
Write and submit that post, launch that Facebook page, tweet away!

4. Track the results.
It’s amazing how much invaluable insight you can get here, especially when it comes to online marketing. There is a bit of a learning curve with those tracking tools, but it’s not rocket science. If nothing else, look into Google Analytics, so you can find out how people got to your website – and ask new clients how they heard about you, when you can.

5. Draw your conclusions.
If you spent three hours and get x new clients and y new subscribers to your newsletter, is it worth the effort?

If it works for you, do more of it. If not, move on.

{Photo by zhouxuan12345678 on Flickr.}

Guest Post: 8 Basics for Working with the Media

Newspapers - Media - PR

Note: This is a guest post by Erika Taylor Montgomery. More info about her at the bottom!

Sometimes working with the media can seem daunting and intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be! With 20 years working as a member of the media and another 13 years of experience in public relations, I can tell you with confidence that anyone can go after media coverage; it just takes time and preparation. Not sure where to start? Here are 8 basics to keep in mind:

1. Get everything ready.

Journalists are extremely busy and usually on a deadline, so make sure you have everything set up before you start reaching out to the press. Is your website is live and up to date? Anticipate items they might want – have 2-5 high-resolution images (at least 3×5 in size and 300dpi), including your logo and headshot, and samples ready in case they’re requested.

2. Do your homework.

With more and more people asking reporters for coverage, it’s important to take the time to do your homework and make sure you’re emailing or calling the right person. For example, if you have a beauty product, contacting the Food Editor won’t get you very far. Make sure the person you contact actually writes or talks about items similar to your product or service. It’s also a nice touch to reference a story they’ve done that you liked when you contact them.

3. Carefully craft your pitch.

A “pitch” is the industry term for a written introduction, usually an email as it’s what journalists tend to prefer (it is much less intrusive and they can get to it when they have a few moments). Fundamentally, a pitch is a request. You are asking for someone in the media to do a favor for you – tell their readers or viewers about your business. As I mentioned before, journalists are extremely busy and usually on a deadline, so keep your pitch to 2-3 paragraphs in length. Make sure your pitch tells the recipient why the story is relevant to their audience right up front, then provide a few important details about the story, and don’t forget to include your contact information (phone and email) in addition to a link to your website for them to find more information. Remember that a pitch is designed to whet the reporter’s appetite, not give them a complete dump of every little detail. If they want more info, they’ll definitely ask, so start with just the most relevant and important information.

4. Say please and thank you.

Being polite and keeping a friendly tone can go a long way. Even if the reporter is short and cryptic, maintain a helpful, professional tone when working with the media and remember to include a “please” and “thank you.”

5. Follow up.

If you don’t hear back, feel free to follow up a couple of times, but stay friendly and don’t do it too often – not more than once a week. You want to be pleasantly persistent – not an annoying stalker. At Three Girls, we include slightly different angles and story ideas in our follow up emails or calls to give them even more ideas about ways the press could share the information with their readers, listeners or viewers.

6. Be pleasantly persistent.

If a journalist requests samples or more information, feel free to check back in with them – but remember to stay polite! Follow up enough to remind them of the sample you sent, but not so much that you become a thorn in their side. I recommend following up no more than 2-3 times over a 6-8 week period. If you don’t get a response, don’t be discouraged. Wait a few months a try again with a slightly different angle.

7. Be friendly, genuine and helpful.

Make sure you’re responsive and helpful, and answer any questions they have quickly – within 24 hours or less if possible. You don’t want them to lose interest in the story idea and journalists are often on deadline and need info quickly.

8. Say thank you again.

If the reporter does write or talk about your business, thank them! In addition to sending a quick email or tweet thanking them, mail them a hand-written thank you card to let them know you really appreciated the coverage. At Three Girls, we include hand-written thank you cards with a fun chotchkie (like a branded pack of post-its) as part of our media relations services. In fact, we regularly receive thank you emails in response to our snail-mailed thank you notes because it’s just not common and helps us stand out.

Now you’re ready to get started!

Erika Taylor Montgomery is the CEO of Three Girls Media & Marketing Inc and host of Punch! Media & Marketing Made Easy, which airs Saturday mornings from 9:00 to 10:00 PST on 1220 am KDOW. To set up a complimentary consultation on public relations or social media management, you can email Erika at info@threegirlsmedia.com.

{Photo by Thomas Hawk on Flickr.}