10 Ways to Market Your Design Practice Without Advertising

The Top 10 Ways to Market Your Business or Professional Practice Without Advertising
Every business and professional practice MUST be in the public eye. You need clients! They need your goods and services. It's a mutual alliance for mutual benefit! However, if potential clients don't know you exist, or can't find you, you will go bankrupt! They won't benefit from your services and you won't make money. This makes marketing a necessity. Advertising is one form of marketing, but it's terribly expensive. Here are the Top 10 alternatives:

1. Contact 5 past customers or referral sources to thank them for their business and ask them to evaluate the quality of your service. Let them know they are the most important part of your research and development program. Listen to their suggestions!

2. Re-do your business cards, brochures or letterhead. Up-date your slogans, be certain your use of colors, textures and headlines is appropriate and represents precisely the image you want to convey. Hire a graphic designer. Don't skimp on your first impression!

3. Announce a new program, new products, new hours, new personnel or new policies. So long as it is real and improves the quality and level of your service, this is news that customers, clients and the media will want to know about.

4. Attend and participate in networking opportunities. From business open-houses to neighborhood picnics, to greeting people you've done business with when you see them around town, always look for ways to remind people of who you are and the services and benefits you provide.

5. Cooperate with other organizations to achieve name and brand recognition you couldn't achieve on your own. Sponsor a local softball team, join with a radio station to sponsor a contest, or participate in a charity golf tournament. Partnerships can bring huge rewards!

6. Offer a seminar, class or workshop. Local news media will often cover an interesting topic, and it's a great way to make people aware of your services. Charge little or no admission, have great handouts and materials, and get a crowd together.

7. Use direct mail. Typically, we think of this as "junk mail" going to thousands of people, but more often it's a matter of using your word processor to write a personal letter to 200 past customers, colleagues, or even competitors. Make it interesting, personal, and remind them of your special niche or unique services. Include a coupon or certificate. Make sure your direct mail is not "junk"!

8. Form an alliance with your suppliers, colleagues or even your competitors to offer a "combo" package that neither of you could offer alone and share the marketing expenses. Attorneys and accountants can offer compelling packages. A massage therapist might pair with a Chiropractor, a gym, or a weight-loss program. Who can you team up with?

9. Review everything a potential customer sees or hears when they do business with you. How do you answer your phone? Do your signs needs re-painting, is your lobby attractive and comfortable? Is your desk a mess? Do you take pride in your appearance and take time to make clients comfortable? It's all in the details!

10. Re-submit your web page to at least 5 search engines this week. Each search engine has it's own rules and you don't want to flood them, but it is wise to up-date your listing at least every few months. (And, if you aren't on the web, well, that's tip #11.)

By Philip Humbert
Photography by Photoeuphoria

© Copyright 2003 by Philip E. Humbert. All Rights ReservedWritten by Dr. Philip E. Humbert, writer, speaker and success coach. Dr. Humbert has over 300 free articles, tools and resources for your success, including a great newsletter! It's all on his website at: http://www.philiphumbert.com


How to Make Publicity Work for Your Business: 6 P.R. Strategies to Use Right Now

How to Make Publicity Work for Your Business: Six P.R. Strategies to Use Right Now

Public Relations (or P.R.) is a wonderful, yet often overlooked marketing tool. P.R. is an intangible - making it a tough sell for many P.R. professionals. It is our job to sell the concept and show the client how it will enhance marketing efforts and, in many cases, replace costly or one-off advertising. Public relations is just that - relating to the public. Every outward communication should be carefully executed and the mission of the company should never be compromised. How do your clients find you? How does the public perceive your business? These points can be incorporated into a P.R. strategy that maintains consistent messages to your customers, thereby keeping your company top of mind and, in turn, growing your business.

Below are six P.R. strategies that can be implemented today. Whether you hire an outside professional or keep your publicity in-house, these strategies should be a part of your marketing plan.

1. Brand Building: It is very common for businesses to use advertising in brand-building strategies, however publicity can be less expensive and much more effective in establishing a brand's identity. One complimentary news piece in a publication read by your target consumer can produce significant results. Publicity, whether performed by an external company or executed in-house, can also be cost-effective.

Several online distribution services are available making the cost to send out a press release affordable, and sometimes even free depending on desired reach. It is important that any news release is informative and factual. Many of the online distribution services even offer templates to assist in the development of a release for a small fee. Before paying for such a service, however, be sure to identify hidden talent in your organization - there may be a great writer in your midst.

2. Generate Press Releases:

Press releases are for announcing newsworthy information to the media only. If the information is not news, it should not be announced. In addition to news, a press release should contain only facts - not hype. Business as usual is not news. Celebrating a milestone such as a ten-year anniversary, one-millionth sale, or appointing a new CEO is newsworthy. In many cases, a newsworthy story can be developed with some creativity.

For example, a company that manufactures comfortable walking shoes can create a "Walk to Work" day. They can provide fun facts about the health benefits of walking and why the right walking shoes is so important. This can be pitched to local media outlets and may get picked up nationally. Many times current events will also create an opportunity for a press release (see #3.) Remember to always include your company's website at least once and be sure accurate contact information is listed.

3. Tap Into Media Trends:

Many times businesses can tie into current events and trends in the media. For example, if the evening news is covering storm damage to an area in your town and your company sells a product or service that would benefit people living in those areas, you have a topical news announcement.

Call, fax or email the news desk and tell them about your product and why their viewers need to know about it. Be sure to mention that your story idea is time-sensitive.

Watch your local news for one week and take notes. Identify what types of stories the local reporters are covering. Chances are at least one of the subjects covered was a direct result of a recent news story. Listen and learn how one led to the other then be ready to pitch your service or product when future opportunities arise.

4. Increase Awareness by Increasing Search Engine Listings:

Each time a release is distributed over the internet or a story is written and posted online, be sure your company's web address is included. The more links to your site, the better the exposure your site will receive in search engines. In addition to press releases, link swapping, article postings, quotes, and endorsements are great ways to generate links online. Google your company and your competitor's company daily. If your company is not as prominent as your competitor's, read their results listings and learn what they are doing to generate links.

5. Website Improvements Produce More Traffic:

Optimize your company's website often. Be sure keywords on the website are targeted toward your consumers. Ask customers what words they would enter in a search engine when looking for your products or services and add those to your keywords. Small adjustments can mean a big difference in traffic to the site and subsequently increased business. Constantly updating web content is an easy and effective way to generate better search engine results. Be sure to update news and information at least once a month. Always add press release announcements to your website press area - and be sure your press area is easy to find, easy to read, and easy to print.

6. Highlight Expertise:

One of the best ways to generate publicity is to establish expert credibility with the media. Do competitors continually get quoted in industry trade publications and you don't? They've probably done a good job of alerting the media about their expertise in your field. Don't worry, however, all journalists want to have more than one expert in any field. Begin to define yourself as an expert by writing articles, including the word expert in press releases, biographies, announcements, and descriptions. If you make a living doing what you do, you are an expert. If you are having trouble determining your area of expertise: ask friends, family, and colleagues to help identify your strengths and start spreading the word. Update the company description on your website right now by including your newly identified expertise and you've accomplished #5 and #6 already!

By Angela Moore
Photography by Kostya Kisleyko

Angela is a founding partner in Starfish Public Relations, a Los Angeles based public relations and marketing company specializing in personality driven strategies. Garcia has held several positions in the entertainment industry including HITS Magazine, Warner Bros. Records, Maverick Records, MCA Records, and House of Blues Entertainment. She credits her success to her creative and enthusiastic approach to work and life. For more information about Angela Garcia and Starfish P.R. please visit: http://www.starfish-pr.com

How to Create a Marketing Strategy That Ensures a Constant Flow of Business

To better market your business you'll need to think about your marketing strategy. It isn't enough to do sporadic marketing activities. A successful plan will help you to establish a constant flow of new business and allow you to more accurately forecast your staffing needs.

1.  Describe your target market in demographic terms (age range, income level, occupation, marital status, geographical location, sex).  

2.  Describe your target market in psychographic terms (life style, desires, perceived needs)
This information along with demographic information will help you to find where your target market hangs out. What ever you choose in terms of marketing activities you always want to be sure you are in front of a significant number of members of your target market. 

3.  Estimate the size of your target market.
The larger the target market the easier it is to reach them. That said however a target market that is too large may prove difficult to reach because there is a lot of variation within it. You want to choose a target market that is small enough so that when you speak or write to them, they feel you are speaking or writing directly to them.

4.  Analyze your competitors by detailing their strengths and weaknesses and where you see opportunities to compete with them and also where you see threats to them or to you in terms of competition.

5.  Describe the product/service you offer and your competitive advantage.
This is an opportunity to get clear about your value proposition-the reason customers/clients choose you over the competition.

6.  Put it all together in a positioning statement that takes this form:
The target market for my business is (describe the clients using the information from 1 and 2 above) who have this problem (what is the compelling reason they need this service?).
The service offered is (describe service as you did in #5) is unlike the competition because (describe competitive advantage as you did in #5)

7.  Describe how you will deliver this product/service.

  • Will the client come to your office?
  • Will you go to the client? Is the service delivered on the telephone or over the Internet?
  • Can the client get the service by regular postal service?

8.  How will you price your product/service?
  • What is the competitive pricing environment?
  • Are their any constraints that limit what you can charge?
  • Do you have a specific profit margin that you must get?
  • What do you estimate it costs you to deliver this product/service?
  • What are you basing your pricing on? Is it cost, quality, leadership, revenue generation?

9.  What are the marketing actions and follow up actions you will take to get your prospects to become customers/clients? How frequently and where will you market your services?

10.  How will you measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategy?
This is the only way to know how successful your marketing strategy is. After 3 or 4 months if the strategy is not working, you will want to alter the plan and try again. 

By Alvah Parker
Photography by Edgard Rodriguez

Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor (The Attorneys' Coach) and a Career Changers' Coach as well as publisher of Parker's Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine. Subscribe now to these free monthly publications at her website http://www.asparker.com/samples.html and receive a values assessment as a gift. Work becomes more meaningful and enjoyable when you work from your values.Parker's Value Program© enables her clients to find their own way to work that is more fulfilling and profitable. Her clients are attorneys and people in transition who want to find work that is in line with their own life purpose. Alvah is found on the web at http://www.asparker.com. She may also be reached at 781-598-0388.


Media Training: Seven Ways to Instantly Improve Your Media Interviewing Skills

Media Training: Seven Ways to Instantly Improve Your Media Interviewing Skills

Imagine if you were going to address a stadium full of people. You'd probably spend hours (if not days or weeks) agonizing over every word you were going to say. You'd practice your gestures in the mirror. You'd carefully select your clothing. You might even rehearse with your family.

Surprisingly, though, many spokespeople don't give much thought to an interview before speaking to a reporter. "It's only one person," they may think, "Plus, I know my material cold."

Preparing for a media interview - during which you may reach many more people than could fit in a stadium - should be at least as important as preparing a speech for that rowdy crowd.

Here are seven ways you can help prepare before you speak to a member of the press:

1. Visualize An Audience of One 

Reporters are simply the conduit between you and the audience. Don't try to impress a journalist with the depth of your technical knowledge or envision an audience of thousands. Instead, visualize the woman listening to news radio on her drive home or the man sitting on his living room sofa reading the morning paper. That personal connection will help ensure that you're having a conversation with the audience instead of speaking at them.

2. Write Tomorrow's Headline

Every time you give an interview, the reporter should walk away with a clear sense of what the headline will be - and you should be the person who gives it to her. Prior to each interview, write down your perfect headline. It should be short - no longer than a sentence - and completely compelling. During the interview, state your headline several times, and place as many of your other answers as possible within the context of that headline.

3. Play Bridge

Reporters rarely ask the "perfect question" that allows you to deliver your ideal headline. Therefore, you'll have to seamlessly segue to your point. After answering a reporter's question directly, bridge to your headline by saying something such as, "But I think the most important thing here is..." or "The bigger picture is that...."

4. Help Them See It

Since people are barraged with more information than they can retain, raw numbers and statistics rarely stick. Instead of just delivering information without context, develop a more user-friendly metaphor. For example, instead of saying that 4.5 million people have Alzheimer's disease, say that more Americans have Alzheimer's disease than Colorado does people.

5. Be a Layman

Every profession has its own set of acronyms, specialized terms, and jargon that is not understood by the general public. Successful spokespeople know they have to express complicated thoughts simply to ensure their message resonates. Use metaphors, analogies and anecdotes to help make your point. If you're stuck, try explaining your topic in simple terms to your 12-year-old nephew until he understands it.

6. Accentuate the Positive

If a reporter asks you an innocuous question, repeat back the question in the beginning of your answer. For example, "How is the weather today?" should be answered with, "The weather is beautiful today," instead of just, "Beautiful." Since a reporter's question is unlikely to be included in the story, speaking in complete sentences allows the journalist to quote an entire self-contained thought.

7. Eliminate the Negative

If you are asked a negative question, such as, "Has your organization ever broken the law," do not answer by saying, "Our organization has never broken the law." Doing so connects illegal activity and your organization in the same sentence - something you never want to do. Instead, frame your answer in positive terms by saying, "We are confident that we have always complied with the law."

By Brad Phillips
Image by Jan Willem

Brad Phillips is the author of the Mr. Media Training Blog, one of the world's most visited media training websites ( http://www.MrMediaTraining.com ). The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media. Mr. Phillips is the founder and president of Phillips Media Relations ( http://www.PhillipsMediaRelations.com ), a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC, DC, and LA. Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources.


7 Tips for Winning Client Appreciation & Loyalty

Follow up with your customers or your business will die.
Here is a good list that will help you stay targeted in the right direction toward building your client database.
1. Make others feel important. Put them first.
You need to make sure your marketing answers the WIFM,(What's in it for Me?}question. Emphasize the advantages you can offer them.

2. Draw a picture in their minds.
Clients need a clear idea of what benefits are involved for them. They need to understand how they are going to gain advantages over other's by hiring you. Use stories to create a vision of how their lives will be improved after the services you provide them.

3. Follow the golden rule.
Put yourself in the place of your client. How would you feel if this were you making a purchasing decision? Is what you are offering worth more than what you are asking?  Treat your clients the way you expect to be treated . An unhappy client will not help your business grow. You want them to be so happy they can't wait to do business with you again.

4. Share some of your flaws.
If people suspect that you're covering up your mistakes, you will lose credibility. Get real, share a little bit of yourself, show them how a problem for you ended up with the development of a product as a solution.

5. Never criticize other businesses harshly.
Negative advertising bashing will only come back to haunt you. Public praise encourages others to excel, but public criticism only embarrasses and alienates everyone. If you bad mouth a comptetitor, your customer may fear that the next person you speak badly about may be him.
6. Be open to feedback.
Encourage it. You need to be available to your clients Automation is good, but make sure you answer feedback promptly and whenever posible with a personal touch. Make autoresponse messages as personalized as possible without overdoing it. Email other design business owners, compliment their sites and blogs, ask questions, and observe how business is being handled. Often you will gain new insights into your work and find new opportunities. This is how joint ventures are born. This is the spirit of community that is found with the global community.
7. Deal with problems and conflicts quickly and positively.
No one wants to deal with irate clients. Look at a problem client as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than as a thorn in your side. Your business will benefit from the experience. Analyze how the problem can be avoided in the future.
Follow these seven tips, go the extra mile and your business will thrive.
By Laurie Meade
Image by Phil Date

Laurie Meade is a Writer, Online Researcher and a single WAHM. She has an Associate of Arts Degree, majored in journalism in college. 8 years experience writing and promoting online websites with article writing tactics. The Administrator of a new directory [http://www.areyousurvivingthisrecession.com] Visit her established and growing directory at [http://www.articles411.com]