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5 Marketing Tips for Businesses that want to Change the World

June 8, 2009

keelNickelProof_obvIf I only had a nickle for every time someone asked me, “What’s the best way to do ______ {fill in with your choice of marketing channel/idea}?”

Yep, I’d be a very rich woman.

For some reason, even well-seasoned business people have been known to ask this question — even when they know the answer:  “It depends.”

It depends on many, many factors too numerous to list here.  But for the sake of argument, let’s just start with these 5 things:

1. Your Vision

What do you stand for?  What are you passionate about? And what is your vision of a perfect world?

Can you define it?  Really?

Then complete this sentence:  “I envision a world where everyone ____.”

If your vision were realized, would it put you out of business?  It should.  As a social entrepreneur, your vision needs to describe a world so perfect that you can understand, and explain to others, what’s currently missing in our reality.

2. Your Mission

Once you know your end game (your vision), you then need to know how you specifically will realize that picture.

This is your mission statement.  Every successful organization has one.  It keeps them focused.  And focused intention is key to getting somewhere.

If your mission statement is too long or too fancy or just plain too much, it won’t be able to do its job.  So make sure you have one that you can memorize.  (This is a sure way to test for length).  And it needs to be clear:  what are you trying to do?  And how are you doing it?  Period.

3. Your Target Market

Have you done the research?  Do you know who you are trying to reach?  Do you know what gets them out of bed in the morning? Where they hang out? And whether or not they even care about what your product/service/idea?

If you don’t know these things, stop what you’re doing right now and find out.

Find out the demographics and psychographics of your ideal customers, clients or audience members.  Then write up a profile for each of them.  (Yes, you probably have more than one.)

Make this profile at least one full page of detail.  And give the ideal person a name.  This will make it easier to write your marketing copy (because you’ll know who you’re talking to).

4. Your Strategy (aka Your Plan)

Do you have any idea how you will proceed? Do you have measurable goals?

If not, stop what you’re doing right now and work on this one.  Really. It’s that important.

The only way you will ever never know if you’ve been successful, is by choosing specific goal(s) that you will accomplish and then laying out a step-by-step plan to get there.

5. Be Flexible

Yes, you want to follow the plan.  But stuff happens.  The economy shifts.  Your ideal clients evolve.  Things change.  Get used to it.

Just pay attention.  Listen to your customers.  Listen to your audience.  And make adjustments to your plan when appropriate.

If you do all of these things persistently, you can’t help but see positive results. I promise. And for those of you in business to change the world, that’s all the incentive you need, right?

Do you have other tips for social entrepreneurs?  If so, share!

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Business Week releases list of Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs

May 30, 2009
Business Week's Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs

Business Week's Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs

Earlier this month, Business Week published its list of Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs in the US.  (No, I didn’t make the list…this year.)

Over 200 impressive nominations streamed in, representing a range of industries and target markets.  The magazine then culled through those, whittling the group to 25 finalists. In April they posted profiles in a slide show and encouraged readers to vote for the company they felt held the most promise. By the end of the month, over 12,500 votes had been cast.

This final list of five is quite impressive, and I hope to be interviewing each of the winners on Planet Good Radio in the coming weeks.  The five are:

No. 1 Online bookseller Better World Books. The 200-person company makes money selling books it gets for free from a network of individuals and institutions across the country.

No. 2 Health-care management and consulting company, Impact Makers, constructs disease-management programs, and performs IT work, systems consulting, and program audits.

No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 The next three runners-up: organic yogurt king Stonyfield Farm; university lecture video site Academic Earth; and San Francisco’s sustainable fish purveyor Clean Fish

You can read profiles on each of the top vote-getters as well as the rest of the finalists in Business Week’s slide show.

Be Famous. And while you’re at it, be in the right place at the right time, too.

May 25, 2009
Joshua Bell, uber-famous (and talented!) violinist

Joshua Bell, uber-famous (and talented!) violinist

When you’re thinking about how to market your products and services, you’ll first need to consider your audience (AKA your Target Market).  Your audience is the group of people that really wants what you have.  You just need to find out where they are and how to talk to them and the rest is a piece of cake.  They see you, recognize you are the one they’ve been searching for, and…the rest is history. (Okay, it’s not that easy, but I couldn’t resist.)

One of the pieces of this puzzle – their recognition of you as THE ONE – will only happen if you appear in the right context.

Case in point: when Joshua Bell (the famous violinist) posed as a street musician in Washington DC, nobody paid him any attention.  Normally, if you want to see this guy play, you have to shell out a minimum of $100 (that’s for the cheap seats).  But on this day, in the subway, he played for hours and only earned $32.  Wha??!  Yes, it’s true.  Most people didn’t even stop.  Only a few small children recognized that something really good was happening and slowed down their parents for a few moments.  He was playing his Stradivarious for cryin out loud!  And people were just too busy to see (hear) the beauty right in front of them. (Side note: don’t let this happen to YOU.)

They didn’t recognize Joshua Bell as THE ONE because he was in the wrong context for them.  Members of his target audience (classical music lovers) were most likely among the many that walked right past him.

But they didn’t stop because they were on autopilot.  Their heads were wrapped around the task of getting to work.  That’s it. That’s all they could see, hear or think about.

So remember this when you are trying to break through the gazillions of messages that are constantly bombarding us day in and day out.  You’ve really got to position yourself and your message in the right context.  Perception is half the battle.  If people believe you’re famous, they’ll pay attention.  But only if you’re being famous in the right place at the right time.

Read the original article from The Washington Post

It’s kind of fun. But will it make me any money?

April 30, 2009
How do you use these tools for GOOD??

How do you use these tools for GOOD??

Over and over again, conversations around the power of Social Media consistently boil down to this question:  how do you make money from all that time you’re spending on Facebook (or LinkedIn, or Twitter, et al?).  Well?

Here’s my answer:  use your time to LISTEN.  And then, when you start to see patterns — like a specific need or challenge that people are voicing repeatedly — figure out how to create a product or service that will answer it.

Case in point:  My Social Media 101 workshop.  How did this workshop happen?  I kept seeing folks asking the same kinds of questions over and over:  How do I use Facebook (or LinkedIn, et al) effectively as a business promotional tool?  How can I make it do this for me?  How can I make it do that for me? Sound familiar?

Seeing this pattern, I quickly scheduled a 2-hour workshop for newbies and invited all my friends who I thought might want to attend.  (Note: I didn’t just blanket invite everyone). And I didn’t limit that invitation to Facebook or LinkedIn.  I also sent out an e-mail invitation (because contrary to what you may think, everyone in the world is NOT using social media…yet).  The class filled so quickly (in two days) that I had to schedule another one.

The key is that you don’t start from the point of trying to sell something to someone.  People don’t like to be sold to – they prefer to buy things when it serves them.

Until then, you are ALWAYS in the relationship-building mode.  Pretend you are at a cocktail party.  You are there to have conversations and create new relationships.

Some of the other things you might want to do with your various social media tools:

  • Consider and apply the unwritten rules of offline relationship building to online (e.g. don’t ask people to visit your home or marry you right off the bat – they’ll think you’re weird!)
  • Conduct casual market research – ask questions that pertain to your industry.  If you want to get fancy, there are even 3rd party apps that will integrate with FB so you can poll folks on a specific topic.
  • Invite people to other events – promote offline venues for your friends to come and see you
  • Integrate your efforts with all the other marketing you do (it doesn’t exist on its own)
  • Share your knowledge and know-how.  Be who YOU are in a generous way.
  • Let people know the (really) cool things you’re up to (e.g. when you sign a new, high profile client, or wrap up a project for high profile client)
  • Create a balance between business messages/questions, and personal messages/questions (especially on Facebook!)

Have more ideas?  I invite you to share them here.

Need more ideas? Come to my Social Media 101 workshop on May 12.

The Power of Fans (or, How Susan Boyle reminds us about Truth and Beauty )

April 20, 2009
Susan Boyle, a Superstar with FANS

Susan Boyle, a Superstar with FANS

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past week or so, you know about Susan Boyle.  She’s the new Superstar of Britain’s Got Talent – (check her out on video here).

Apparently, everyone in the world prejudged Susan as a talentless, middle-aged frump — solely on the basis of her appearance.  Until she opened her mouth.  And then she had FANS.

Susan reminds ALL of us that judging ‘a book by its cover’ can be dangerous and stupid.  But that’s not all she’s done.

She’s started collecting huge amounts of fans.  People in her hometown love her, and people around the world love her.  And she’s got fans online too (have you seen The Fans of Susan Boyle Facebook pages? We’re talkin’ millions!) .  And all of those fans want to hear more from Susan.

What would YOU do with that kind of influence?

I’m sure Ms. Boyle will use her Super Powers for good (and not evil) — and mostly I know this because a voice as true and beautiful as hers could never be used for any other purpose.  But this begs a question you may want to consider as you put together your own marketing plans.  Where are YOUR fans?  And do you know how to influence them?

The beautiful truth about powerful marketing (that’s used for good) is that we all have the ability to tap it — in our own unique way.  We all have a supreme talent and unique voice that — if we let it out and shine — will help us connect with our fan base and start a wave that we can wield in all sorts of fun and fabulous ways.

I’m waiting to see what Susan does with her Fan Club.  Will she change the world?  What do you think?

Could You use a Music Video to Promote Your Next Book (Cause, Product, Service)?

April 2, 2009

Many authors create their own speaking videos, but how many authors create their own music video?  Author Marisa Handler did — AND, she did a fine job of it too!

Not only is it a wonderful piece of art and music in its own right, but it made me want to buy her book (“Loyal to the Sky: Notes from an Activist“)  — which means as a marketing tool, it WORKS.

Watch her video and let me know what YOU think.

10 Tips (plus some) for Going Paperless and Greening your Office

March 16, 2009

Many of us have already converted our calendars and address books to our computer, but there are many more opportunities for eliminating paper from your office.

If you’re interested in greening your business operations and saving some serious money in the process, read on.

10 Tips for going paperless

  1. Bank online – receive and pay your bills online and eliminate stamps, checks, envelopes.
  2. Do some pre-planning and decide ahead of time how you will file documents electronically and how you will back them up (archives, storage, etc.).  Decide on a file naming structure that you will consistently follow to make it easier for you to find things later.
  3. Purchase the full version of Adobe Acrobat so you can “print” documents to a PDF format instead of paper – then file them electronically!  You can also use PDFs as a team and make comments/edits electronically instead of in hard copy.
  4. Use an e-fax system so you can send and receive your faxes via e-mail.
  5. Create a JPG of your signature which you can use to “sign” your electronic letters (to do this, use a fine point black sharpie and sign your name slightly larger than you normally do on a white piece of paper; scan this and create a JPG or other file formats as necessary).
  6. Use electronic letterhead/stationery to create official looking correspondence that you send out via e-mail or zumbox.  Have your graphic designer set up these electronic templates for you in Microsoft Word.
  7. Use a scanner to capture any printed/paper documents and file them electronically.  Shred and recycle the printed paper.
  8. Review and edit documents on-screen whenever possible; when editing documents, make sure you save each new version as a new document so you can track changes and go back to original versions, if necessary.
  9. Use your website and the Internet as a solution for marketing your business as well as delivering documents, files, proofs, etc.  There are many free or low-cost web-based solutions that allow you to create and maintain a solid online presence.
  10. Subscribe to your favorite publications electronically. Even many daily newspapers offer a digital version you can read online (advertisements and all!)

And if you can’t go completely paperless, consider these options:

  • Set your printer to print on both sides of the paper (duplex) documents automatically.
  • Print green: Use tools like Greenprint and Eco-font to minimize the use of ink.
  • Use recycled paper – 100% recycled is best, if you can afford it. But at least 30% is better than using virgin paper.
  • Recycle your printer cartridges – you can even get money for them with some services.
  • Save up paper that has been printed on one side and send it back through again on the other side.
  • Remove yourself from junk mail lists.
  • Create all your direct mail pieces as postcards so you don’t have to use an envelope. And make sure your print vendor is using recycled paper and soy/vegetable inks.

Have any more suggestions?  Please leave them here to share with our readers!